There is some interesting work happening over at Optaros, a next-generation consulting firm. Optaros helps companies build web sites and back end systems using Web 2.0 principals. The company recently converted its own web site to showcase what it means by Web 2.0.
Full disclosure: Racepoint was Optaros’ PR agency of record for more than a year, but we are no longer are engaged with them.
Optaros’ new web site has a fresh look and feel (although some of the dynamic content looks a bit clunky, especially on the home page). Optaros lists its “8 Principals for B2B Marketing 2.0” in the new age of the web. Most of its principals have been said before, but they present it well. However, number 6 really took us by surprise:
“Stop issuing press releases “over the wire.” The first press release was “put on the wire” on March 8, 1954 by PRNewswire to 12 news outlets in New York City. The pricing model is still based on the number of words with the average press release costing between $500 and $1,000 to put “over the wire”. Instead, email them to reporters/ bloggers to build a personal connection and increase the probability of coverage.”
This is why companies shouldn’t take communications advice from marketers. They simply don’t understand public relations. This principal flies in the face of what is happening on the web (and also contradicts Optaros’ 7th principal, which is to syndicate and actively share content).
In the age of interconnectivity and search engine optimization why would a company choose to limit the distribution of its own news? When a press release goes over the wire – it is automatically picked up by dozens (and sometimes hundreds) of online outlets. These “links” immediately push the press release to the top of Google and Yahoo searches.
When Racepoint launched Ringleader, a next-generation mobile advertising network, several weeks ago, its press release held three of the top spots in the first 10 results in a Google search for the company for more than 10 days. That meant anyone conducting a search for “Ringleader” had a 30 percent chance of clicking on a link to the press release.
That’s a powerful mode of communication. If a company was wise enough to include links to additional content in the press release then it now has an opportunity to engage more directly with potential customers.
Press releases are more important than ever. The mistake in Optaros’ thinking is believing that press releases are written for the press. That’s old-fashioned thinking for company touting to be Web 2.0. Press releases are now for everyone: customers, prospects, partners, investors, employees, bloggers, social networks, reporters, editors, and analysts.
Companies should be writing more of them – and distributing them widely through the wires, through RSS, through aggregators and social bookmarking services, and, yes, even directly to reporters when a reporter has asked for a copy of one (and generally before its been widely distributed).
(And on another note: Optaros clearly doesn’t understand how to develop relationships with the press either. One sure-fire way to get off on the wrong foot with a reporter is to clutter up her inbox with press releases she didn’t ask for.)
There’s little doubt that the industry needs to rethink the way they write press releases. We agree with Optaros that companies should kill the corporate voice and engage with everyone in a more straight forward, plain-spoken manner.
Here are some additional details about our philosophy on press releases.
It’s refreshing to see companies like Optaros opening up and communicating better. They are setting an excellent example for other companies to follow.
But they should leave the public relations advice to the experts.