Sunday, October 15, 2006

The News Release's Diminished Value

“All our servers got swamped - that was one big snow ball... many thanks for getting it started.”

The result of a blogging campaign last week, creating one happy customer. Had another favorable customer result last week, the successful win of a prestigious executive award. This is the stuff that makes it all worthwhile. Very enjoyable.

Yes, once you push that snow ball down the slope, you never know where it’s going to end up. Sometimes it fizzles out, sometimes it creates an avalanche. If it’s hot news, a value-added item of interest to the blogging community, you can guess where it’s going.

It’s interesting to see this kind of measurable response. Most advertising campaigns could never overload a server bay like that, not unless they are Super Bowl caliber or generate social interest. Neither could most news releases, though a very well placed story does sometimes have that same affect.

Speaking of news releases, my thinking of this promotional form of late is not very positive. Just to qualify, my comments apply to business promotion, not politics or advocacy. In my experience, increasingly over the past five years the news release has become a weaker and weaker form of promotion. I’m not the only one, see Sally Hodge’s article on news releases. This is particularly true when client x has a story that misses “home run” qualities.

Here are news stories that may work in a traditional way, i.e. issue the release, then call the media or even better have the media call you:

• Significant deal valuation (>$20 million)
• Acquisition of a company
• Earnings announcements or significant hire/layoff announcements (in the same vein, new offices)
• Recognized national leader involved (Microsoft, Google, Yahoo!, just choose the titans of your business)
• Hiring of nationally recognized individual (we’re talking serious stature, must be recognized by national or top tier trade media in previous life)
• New CEO of an organization that’s frequently in the news
• Crisis scenarios where the media is already focused on you

It seems like a significant list, but ask any CMO who wants ink, and they will nod at the list and struggle to meet its requirements. Achieving this type of news is hard for any company that’s not an established leader in some form. But they will still issue releases that do not fully meet this list’s requirements. And they get fair to middlin’ coverage at best.

Why is that? Well because in the media’s eyes it’s not news. News is something that’s new, and as media are dedicated to business trends or events of significance they use filters to tune out the increasingly larger number of releases thrown at them. Thus the diminished value of news releases.

So the question becomes how does a company garner increased coverage and establish leadership. How does a company build buzz so it becomes well known and their news releases are suddenly important? This will be the next blog entry’s focus (Wednesday a.m.).

A small request: If others are going to use this or other blog material in their own work, please cite me. This is the ethical to do.

Things officially get better today (Monday) with the start of LComm full-timer number two, my director of Internet Marketing. Glad you are on board, buddy. With my CD and another fellow on the team, we now have 2 and some change. This marks a serious milestone. You don’t know how nice it is to move forward with a partner, the one man army thing weighs on you.

Monday’s quotes:

“Tell me what company you keep and I'll tell you what you are.”

“For most folks, no news is good news; for the press, good news is not news.”
-Gloria Berger

“It's better to be a company than to work for a company.”
-Jim Coudal


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