News Releases: Poorly Written Blog Posts?
I just happened upon a post written by Richard MacManus on ReadWriteWeb, a very popular technology blog, about the inclusion of online news release distributer BusinessWire on the Techmeme “leader board“. The leader board lists the top sources posted to Techmeme. MacManus was discussing how Business Wire‘s news releases were competing successfully with bloggers for attention. Note that PR Newswire, another online press release newswire, is also included rather high on the Techmeme list.
What struck me about this post is a comment from Techmeme’s founder, Gabe Rivera:
I asked Techmeme founder Gabe Rivera what he thought of Business Wire ranking #32 on the Techmeme Leaderboard. Gabe replied that this in itself “isn’t a problem.” He told me that “press releases are kind of like poorly-written company blog posts, which also have a place on Techmeme. That said, I wish Techmeme at times did a better job at elevating good blog posts above the press releases they discuss.”
I asked Gabe if people actually read press releases from the likes of Business Wire. “Sometimes people want just-the-facts”, said Gabe, “Some PR Newswire releases are in fact remarkable reads”. He pointed to this recent story about Microsoft’s bid for Yahoo (screenshot below). But, Gabe noted, “many others are less so, and better retold by blogs like RWW.”
Is Rivera actually saying blog writing is somehow superior to news release writing? That’s like saying songwriting is better than textbook writing. That’s a bit of an exaggeration, but the point I’m trying to make is that blog writing and news release writing are two different styles. Good news releases aren’t written in blog post style. While I’m an advocate of using less print-style writing (I’m not much for true AP Style, even when I’m writing news releases), I actually suggest writers use more of a broadcast television style. It’s something of a happy medium between … say … The Wall Street Journal and Gizmodo. And, just because news releases aren’t written exactly the way Mr. Rivera would write them, doesn’t mean they’re written poorly.
Back to the point of the ReadWriteWeb post: News releases DO have a place in online discussion, as Mr. MacManus concluded. As public relation professionals use the web to target their information at the actual public, rather than using the media as an intermediary, their releases will be quoted more as sources by non-traditional media. It’s a natural progression. Well written (and even some of the poorly written) news releases can be a fabulous source for blogs and other social media outlets.
Plug alert: Check out the latest EndGame PR news releases!