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Long live the press release

newspaper-412763_640If you Google ‘death of press release’ you will find a number of articles over the last few years questioning the role that the humble press release plays in PR.  Certainly in the age of Twitter and social media the notion of a 300 – 500 word press release almost seems dated, yet I’d argue they have just as an important role to play in PR today as they did 20+ years ago.  The main difference is that the vast majority are sent via emails as opposed to being posted.

In many respects the email and internet age has encouraged press release quantity rather than quality. Indeed, there certainly does seem to be an increase in the number of badly written and targeted press releases. You only have to look on Twitter on a daily basis to see such releases getting the ire of journalists across all sectors.  Yet, a well written and targeted release (with the appropriate sell-in) can still achieve great results.

When it comes to press releases, the battle we often face with clients is establishing if an announcement justifies a release in the first place and then if it does, the word count.  In the ‘old days’ you probably could get away with just three or four paragraphs as a release was simply there to pique a journalist’s interest with a view to setting up an interview.  However, in the world of online media, where journalists have less time for interviews and are often required to write 4 or 5 stories daily, a longer press release which tells a story and includes well-written quotes can be turned into a good piece of editorial (N.B. I’m not referring to a simple verbatim cut & paste of a release).

One of the main roles of a PR is to help journalists with their stories and certainly an informative editorial style press release remains a good way of doing this – clearly an extended sales pitch masquerading as a press release is more of a hindrance rather than help!  I for one won’t be writing a press release obituary just yet.

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A belated Coverage Cup round up

Coverage cupWelcome to this week’s slightly late coverage-cup round up! Over the last fortnight we’ve helped clients achieve some great pieces of coverage in the industry and national press. There was further coverage of iPass’ Wi-Fi hotspot research in The Economist, the Verizon team achieved inclusion in the Financial Times’ feature on ways to fight cyber-crime, while PQ Solutions were featured twice in the Daily Telegraph following interviews with Brian Snow, who was previously an NSA technical director. Elsewhere, the Dynatrace team’s news hijacking around a Google DoubleClick failure resulted in excellent coverage on Business Reporter. Case studies have also been a great source of coverage, with both Fruition Partners and Egress seeing customer stories being published on Retail Times and Computer Weekly respectively.

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Coverage Cup round up w/c 3 November 2014

Coverage cupWelcome to this week’s Coverage Cup roundup. Last week, iPass released the findings of its global survey of Wi-Fi hotspots which garnered a lot of media interest. Through crafting a media-worthy story, which highlighted a number of key trends, the team was able to get some great media coverage including BBC News Online and The Independent. Elsewhere, the Trustmarque team achieved coverage on ComputerWorld UK around a cloud computing implementation it had done with Rhead Group. Finally, the Egress team secured some great coverage in the channel press following the launch of the company’s new channel programme.

These and some of the other coverage highlights are below:

 

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Coverage Cup round up from the last fortnight

Coverage cupWelcome to this week’s double, bumper edition Coverage Cup round up! To begin with, Compuware’s (now Dynatrace) acquisition by Thoma Bravo saw a great piece of coverage in Computing. Meanwhile the JDA team achieved x2 pieces of coverage in the FT’s recent supplement on IT and the supply chain, as a result of successfully securing a couple of interviews. The Trace One team have also had a busy fortnight, with the client included in a feature in New Scientist magazine this week, as well as having a letter published in The Grocer. Finally, iPass were featured in a national feature in the Daily Telegraph on ‘Smart travel tech for SMEs’.

These are just a handful of the highlights. Below is a selection of some of the other top pieces of coverage we have helped secure for clients over the last couple of weeks:

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Will the end of Google Authorship affect PR?

google-76522_640In August, Google announced the end of Google Authorship. If you are unsure of what Google Authorship really was – it was a tool that allowed users to mark up web pages so that the authorship can be attributed to a particular individual. It was launched in 2011 with the intention of granting authors the opportunity to connect with their content on the web and at the same time enable a process of author verification and rewarding authority content.  In essence it seemed like a good idea for Google at the time back in 2007 to influence page rankings based on the reputation of its authors by using digital signatures.

Google’s primary goal was to make its search results meaningful to the end user – the searcher. Although early data indicated Google Authorship helped the end user, as more data was compiled, the Google team came to the conclusion that the searcher did not benefit from the authorship feature. Google’s team also determined the author images distracted the searchers and cluttered their mobile experience.  A recent survey also found that 70% of authors made no effort in linking their content with authorship. In addition to that figure, out of 150 pages sampled, 50 did not have author pages, while ¾ gave no attribution to an author.

The struggle for PRs in the digital age is how to balance corporate thought leadership with individual thought leadership.  The tech industry is highly mobile; with the exception of the founder, many organisations don’t really have guaranteed longevity for their spokesperson.  So in some ways, going back to leading with the thought rather than the spokesperson makes our lives easier.  In B2B tech PR we’d rather focus on the vision of the management team, conveying the brand values and picking those who have a natural flair for communicating rather than worrying about who needs the biggest profile on Google+.   Obviously if I was the PR for Simon Cowell I’d have a very different perspective, and many hugely successful companies are based on the CEO brand e.g. Virgin.  But for most brands, even the biggest, there are multiple faces of the company.

The focus for most of our clients is on building the corporate brand and delivering the company story via whichever spokesperson is most suited to the opportunity.  They don’t have the budget to create the stable of clichés that are parodied programmes such as ‘Silicon Valley’.   We could do without concerns about ensuring equal billing on Google+ and building personal brands for each of the spokespeople.

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