The new media release is a destination, not just a conduit

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The traditional press release was a primary PR tool designed to help journalists understand an organization’s point of view surrounding a specific announcement. It was a conduit to help get the message across to media. Media were a conduit to reaching the audience, be they consumers, investors, local authorities or any other number of potential targets. It worked well. But times have changed.

First of all, let me confirm that the press release still has a place and remains an invaluable tool. Its function has evolved though. This seems the most difficult thing for many PR pros to understand. The questions I typically get include:

  • Why should we distribute a release online?
  • Are reporters accessing news information online?
  • How does a news release need to be rewritten for the Web?
  • Who actually reads our news online?

I’m not going to answer all of these questions right now. But there are two important things I thought I’d share that help PR professionals less versed with online strategy start to “get it”.

  1. A new media release allows organizations to bypass traditional channels and create a factual, undiluted news destination. It is also a great way to enhance an organization’s search engine visibility, especially when it embraces the language of the Internet and its users. This leads into my second point.
  2. Traditionally we have been focused on distinguishing a company, product or executive through unique messaging. The Internet is about identifying and aligning with commonalities. When we create truly exceptional releases, we lead with common and popular terms and quickly move to the point of distinction. If your news materials use terminology specific to an organization or unfamiliar to the average customer, people won’t find it. It’s as simple as that.

PR has an incredible role to play online. Professionals also needs to assume an incredibly high level of responsibility and accountability since in many instances a journalist is not necessarily filtering and analyzing the message. It’s up to the author to create context and establish credibility by understanding the audience and what really matters to them.

[tags]pr, new media release, social media press release, public relations[/tags]

To interact or attract – What’s your virtual world strategy?

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Have you taken your first step into your Second Life? How about Virtual Laguna Beach or Cyworld or There? I have to admit it my first experience in Second Life was a bit bare. It took a long time for my avatar (my in-world character representation) to load its clothing. After my initial embarrassment, I started to explore. I almost bought virtual property. Almost set up a clubhouse for peers from Fleishman-Hillard where we could hang out. But I didn’t. In the end, I figured it would just lie dormant. I was probably right because I have not made it back regularly. Not so much because I didn’t like it but more driven by the fact that I didn’t have time. Heck, I can’t even find time these days to keep this blog alive. Such is life in client service. Work comes first.

With that said, I still believe there are some great opportunities to interact and engage in-world. I have noticed a couple of strategies. One is what I call a conversational or interaction strategy where your avatar is at the core of the program. Our team’s work in Virtual Laguna Beach is truly exceptional. The client avatar we pilot, Tony Fresh, is one of the most popular characters in Virtual Laguna Beach. Tony is a bit of a a nomad. He wanders the world and is often accompanied by a kiosk which is kind of like a prop. The kiosk is a great conversation piece and allows us to promote our client’s products and drive traffic to their Web site.

H&R Block Second LifeWe have also been getting some great coverage for our work helping H&R Block launch an island in Second Life. This is more of a destination strategy, but it relies heavily on interaction as well. H&R Block has two tax professionals available for tax preparation assistance on Tuesdays and Thursdays until April 17, 2007 from 6-7 p.m. SLT (PDT).

So the big question is not whether you should interact through a conversational strategy or attract to a destination, but do both. At minimum, take the time to interact. It’s amazing who you can meet.

[tags]Fleishman-Hillard, Second Life, Virtual Laguna Beach, H&R Block[/tags]