A debate has been ongoing for the past six months or so about the flaws inherent in the modern news release. One result has been the proposed adoption of standards for a social media news release, that allows journalists and others to subscribe to company information, and receive news, background information, graphics and other stuff online.
The debate spilled over into techland Friday when Stowe Boyd complained that an evening panel discussion about the social media news release ended up with “young, impressionable PR and communications folks” swallowing pablum from PR bloggers who should be focusing on improving communications instead of tinkering with a flawed tool – the news release.
The premise put forward by Stowe, and seconded by Robert Scoble in another blog post, is that companies should stop pushing poorly written crap at the world, and should instead blog about their company activities, which will inform journalists and others about what they’re up to, and eliminate the need for news releases.
Shel Holtz does a good job of summing up both sides of the debate, and explaining why it’s not such a great idea to throw out one of the most commonly used tools in business communications, simply because so many news releases are poorly conceived and poorly executed.
The “replace news releases with blogs” idea reminds me of Donald Rumsfeld and George Bush explaining to the world that once their infrastructure was destroyed, the Iraqi people would rise up and create a democratic utopia in the vacuum created by the unseating of their dictator.
It’s brilliant in its simplicity. As long as hundreds of thousands of businesses, governments, non-profits and ad-hoc groups around the world start to use blogs to conduct ongoing conversations with the people who are interested in them, there won’t be any communications problems.
As happy as it would make many communications people to permanently eliminate news releases and staged photo opportunities, the fact that these PR tools have survived is a testament to their effectiveness at getting information into the hands of people who need it – journalists, analysts, and others who read and write the news either through news wires, or through the media.
I’m all for making news releases more effective, and for bypassing them when it makes sense.
I don’t think the “if we destroy the infrastructure, the people will fill the void with their human interaction” plan is such a great one.