The press release is wriggling pt I

It’s still in use. It will not die. What must we do to kill it? It’s crawling from the grave wriggling, clinging to life in the information bog. It’s alive. It’s alive…

Why won’t the press release die? More precisely, why can’t we stop writing about its imminent death? See New PR Wiki Hot Issues: Press Releases to trace the origins of the discussion back to 2005. For the current flare up see Tom Foremski’s incendiary post Die! Press release! Die! Die! Die! (Feb. 2006), with all the subsequent responses on the uselessness/usefulness of the traditional press release. Foremski, a former Financial Times journalist, mad as hell, issued an enlightened call to arms that kicked this discussion into high gear:

“Press releases are created by committees, edited by lawyers, and then sent out at great expense through Businesswire or PRnewswire to reach the digital and physical trash bins of tens of thousands of journalists. This madness has to end. It is wasted time and effort by hundreds of thousands of professionals.”

The IDEA is to strip out all of the bullshit and hype from traditional mechanical, and useless press releases and rebuild it as a focused compilation of relevant facts, links, media and a subscription feed to help readers write, tell, and share a story their way (without having to sort through a sea of crap to find out what’s real, what’s canned, and what’s important.) This is what a good release should be anyway, regardless of trends and titles. Basically it’s the press release redux. It takes out what’s wrong with press releases and modernizes them into a usable format for journalists, bloggers, and individuals. – Brian Solis

May, 2006 Todd Defren of SHIFT Communications unveiled the Social Media Press Release as a response to Foremski’s seminal DIE PRESS RELEASE post (Foremski is now writing a book on the death of the press release). Thousands of copies of the SHIFT social media press release template were downloaded in the first 60 days of posting - the concept generated a lot of buzz in PR blogs. And – how’s this for PR? - the news was picked up by BusinessWeek. See SHIFT de.licio.us page for a measure of the intense dialogue that continues nearly every day around the death of the press release. Clearly, if it has not yet been demonstrated that we have come up with a successor to the press release, PR pros love talking about it.

So, if the press release is dead, what do we replace it with? In a series of very helpful interviews and analyis of the social media press release, HealthcareVox.com (Aug. 2006), a site devoted to healthcare marketing, started asking the right questions.  They invited SHIFT, PRWeb, and PR Newswire (MultiVu) to discuss their social media services and how they are bieng used.

PRWeb direct-to-consumer offering includes RSS, SEO. They are the best option, they say because “Our exclusive EyeCaster™ technology is an important part of our Online Visibility Engine™, delivering your headlines to 2,000+ Web sites and blogs.”

Samples of MultiVu’s Multimedia News Release (MNR)  - logos, photos, audio/video, and links. Elements are used to assemble a dynamic HTML platform, with all information regarding a news story in one place. 

Early last month Edelman Worldwide began offering StoryCrafter, a web based tool for publishing social media news releases. It features:

  • Core facts
  • Quotes
  • Multi-media
  • Links
  • RSS feeds
  • Resources – Post to de.licio.us. Digg this story
  • Technorati tags
  • Boilerplate
  • Contact
  • Trackback and comments

It’s the “comments’ feature that PR firms, and their clients, will find most daunting. Every piece of news now goes through a consumer-generated cycle of additional commentary that stretches the story to regions you may not want to go, offering a perspective you may not want to hear.

Tracked on Wednesday, December 06, 2006 at 7:39:33 AM
Dutch Perspective :: Public Relations + Cultural Affairs
Edelman just introduced another version of Todd Defren’s original Web 2.0 news release, or social media release, and a tool to create one. It’s not very new or innovative and aesthetically it can be much improved. Nonetheless, it is noteworthy that…

From a theoretical standpoint, the social media press release makes a lot of sense. From a practical standpoint, how do clients who are steeped in tradition and hampered by regulatory and legal constraints begin to use and benefit from the new social media tools – the subject of part II, coming soon. 

Resource: Google Group: “New Media Release”

Bold Moves Leads Huge Losses

Ford Bold Moves marketing campaign 

Since I wrote the post What The Hell is Going on at Ford?, July 24, 2006, I have kept a close eye on Ford. How could you not? They are major business news – one of the goliath Top Three US auto companies fighting for its life.  The question six months ago was: can its Bold Moves blog, social media and ad campaign re-brand the company and drive it toward profitability. The answer is obviously a resounding no, as Ford today reported staggering losses. See Ford Reports Biggest Loss Ever (CNNMoney.com). 

Weak sales of its key pickup trucks in the quarter and $9.9 billion in after-tax charges due to employee buyouts and plant closing plans resulted in $12.7 billion loss for 2006. That works out to a loss of just over $24,000 a minute throughout the course of the year, or about the price of a Ford Mustang – Chris Isidore, CNNMoney.com, 1/25/07

Ford threw a Hail Mary pass, as far as its public marketing campaign, and asked the great mass of consumers out there to help re-define the company, give it purpose. The consistent comment Ford got from the public was: Build better cars and cut the BS. Some resented the quasi-public company appeal as being intrusive, and a sign of weakness. Lee Iacocca, when he was saving Chrysler from the abyss, used to say “Lead, follow, or get out of the way.” Ford was groping, saying “Please love us and buy our cars, we are trying so hard.” 

All the behind-the-scenes chatter, and the many displays of the rich, deep, entrepreneurial history of the company, and the exhortations to “Change or Die” (Okay, does that mean that they now die?), and the almost desperate, retro public love fest with the Mustang, could not overcome the central issue with Ford – they need to build cars as well as Japan, Korea, Germany, virtually anywhere else. As edgy and seemingly forward-thinking as Bold Moves was – it was hopelessly mucked in the past.  

So, does Ford have a chance? Possibly. Wall Street did not hammer the stock, yet, on the news. They took a big but necessary hit on employee buyouts. They have a dynamic, turnaround driven CEO. But it’s clear that Bold Moves yielded meek returns and a new campaign is needed. How about Baby Steps? See final Bold Moves video episode.

Ford Bold Moves

Ford Bold Moves is a video documentary series that takes you inside Ford Motor Company as it attempts one of the largest corporate turnarounds in history. With candid interviews from Ford executives, employees, industry experts and even Ford detractors, Bold Moves approaches each segment from every angle and keeps asking the question: Will Ford succeed?

Media Bloggers Association Credentialed For Libby Trial

From the press release: WASHINGTON DC, January 23, 2007 – The Associated Press has partnered with the Media Bloggers Association (MBA) to distribute its members’ coverage of the trial of Lewis “Scooter” Libby, former chief of staff for Vice President Dick Cheney, to the news organization’s member websites, the bloggers group announced today. See vanguard, real-time blogging of the Scooter Libby trial by MBA bloggers

 Media Bloggers Association 

illustration at: http://blog.gleeson.us/

Jeffrey Graces Elle – Blogs Oscar for AOL

When I saw my nephew Jeffrey on the first episode of Project Runway this past season I thought – wow, this will be an interesting and undoubtedly short lived adventure. The last time I saw Jeffrey was seven years ago in a dive on the lower east side. He was living in L.A., playing bass and touring with a hardcore band, personifying the full throttle rock and roll life, heavy on the drugs and alcohol. He’d also developed an obsession with grandiose tattoos, which persists. Those days you didn’t think of Jeffrey and imagine “couture” or even survival. Dressing himself in the morning seemed to be his greatest fashion challenge.

A few years later Jeffrey hit bottom and I heard from my brother Bruce, Jeffrey’s step father (Jeffrey refers to him as “dad”), that rehab was finally sticking. His band, Lifter, drifted apart and he started making clothes, which, according to Bruce, consisted of buying second hand schmatas at Goodwill, ripping them up, and re-selling the result in exclusive boutiques like Fred Segal in L.A. for ridiculous amounts of money. My brother buys his clothes at Costco. He is more likely to shop Sy Syms than Fred Segal. This fashion stuff is a mystery to him.

Jeffrey was the bad boy of Project Runway. He was combative, self-assured, determined. His personality was natural for television drama and he was not afraid to take chances with his fashion. It was a thrill to have the family gather in New York for Jeffrey’s triumphant runway show in Bryant Park. I was shocked when he won even though he figured it was always in the bag.

So, what’s life like after Project Runway? He’s using the 100K prize to boost Cosa Nostra, his clothing line, but he is donating the Saturn sportscar to MusiCares, the charity that paid his way through rehab. He’s opening a store in West Hollywood. Kirna Zabete in New York and Ron Herman in L.A. are stocking his Project Runway collection. Supposedly, he’s creating something for Seal, husband of Project Runway star Heidi Klum. Elle has a spread on him this month (Gwen Stefani on the cover) with a shoot featuring his favorite model Marilinda (photo above). He’s spending time with l’amor de la mi vita Harrison Detroit (photo below). He has 19,010 friends (and counting) on MySpace. See photo journal I created for Jeffrey when he won the rock star episode of Project Runway – Yo, if you can make it here …

From the AOL press release: Beginning January 16, the day after the Golden Globe Awards telecast, Sebelia will bring his cutting-edge, rock n roll fashion sensibility to Moviefone.com in a special blog, trashing and applauding the previous nights fashion faux pas and triumphs. Then hell take his trademark avant-garde prêt-a-porte attitude to the Academy Awards® ceremony, providing Moviefone visitors with a pull-no-punches morning after celebrity fashion review.

Jeffrey Sebelia, Bruce Rose & Harrison Detroit Sebelia at Disneyland
Jeffrey, Harrison Detroit, Bruce Rose bundled up at Disneyland,
January, 2007, the day it was 70 degrees in New York!
 

Edelman Speaks Up … Say What???

Richard Edelman finally acknowledges the “significant chatter” about his firms’ ethical challenges in the blogosphere with a 1/12 post that essentially says he has nothing to say. The post is called Setting Expectations and he is very clear that our expectations for him addressing this issue or other front-page news about recent Edelman antics in the blogosphere should be very low.  

Edelman says “we hold ourselves to the highest standards of ethical behavior and openness,” but he is not compelled to discuss what those standards are, and he sees no need to be open about company policies or behavior in the blogosphere. Instead, he says, he’ll let subordinates deal with that and he offers a link to a PR Week print edition story that quotes Edelman’s Me2Revolution President Rick Murray. Unfortunately, the story requires a $178 subscription to view. (PRWeek reporter Keith O’Brien offers a free link to the story.)

Okay, Richard Edelman won’t talk about Microsoft of Wal-Mart, but maybe he will discuss his personal blogging standards and policies. I posted to his blog last week and it still has not appeared. Others have been complaining recently that their posts, when they ask questions about Edelman blogging policies, take several days to appear and then they are ignored. Anyone who manages a blog knows you can approve or disallow a post in seconds.  Richard, do you want to be timely and even handed in your blog – or do you want to manipulate the dialogue? What is your policy? 

This is not a matter of competitors picking on each other and trying to find fault with the big dog in the digital PR space. As David Jones noted in his post on CanuckFlack : “Even though I work at one of their competitors (Fleishman-Hillard), I want these guys to succeed for the good of the industry.”

I was a huge supporter of Richard Edelman when he started blogging a few years ago. That’s why it is  disturbing to see his blog devolve into a backslapping, self-congratulatory, self-promotional vehicle while the big elephant in the middle of the room is off limits. He has an opportunity here to move the needle with some open engagement, a real dialogue – what blogs are all about – but he chooses instead PR 1.0 shuffle and dance with a story quoting subordinates planted in the PR trade pub. Come on!  

Related Links:

Edelman Speaks Up In Shut Up

Edelman In The New World