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Are blog posts supplanting press releases?

Photo courtesy Abhisek Sarda via Flickr

Photo courtesy Abhisek Sarda via Flickr

When Google recently announced the upcoming launch of its first operating system, many news organizations found the format of the announcement noteworthy: no press release, no press conference, just a simple blog post on the company’s official blog.

Is a blog post the right format for a major company announcement? It depends, first of all, on what kind of visibility your blog has. For a big company whose blog is read avidly by geeks everywhere, there’s no risk that it will be missed; more than 4,000 other blogs and sites linked to Google’s post within two weeks.

For its part, Microsoft has found corporate blogs to be an effective medium for announcements not intended to attract a lot of attention. It recently announced the shuttering of Popfly, a Web data mashup tool akin to Yahoo Pipes, on the product’s official blog. (Mashup tools have largely failed to live up to their hype, but next-generation Semantic Web technologies could soon change that; a topic for another post.)  

As is often pointed out, the key difference between sending out press releases and blogging is that the former is a “push” medium and the latter a “pull” one. That is to say, news releases find their audience through established channels, whereas blog posts are found organically through links and search. While “pull” media have become more fashionable as communications pros attempt to take advantage of social technologies, if not promoted through social tools and optimized properly, they run the risk of never being found.

In a way, any debate about blog posts vs. press releases for professional engagement is semantic. Like a blog post, a press release online has to be ready for consumers (no jargon), deeply linked, search engine optimized and multimedia-enhanced when possible/appropriate. Content that meets these criteria grows legs on the social Web regardless of its format, attracting inbound links, tweets, blog posts, comments, citations on social bookmarking sites and other concretely trackable forms of online sharing. Be sure to check out Heidi’s content creators series on this blog for tips from top experts on how to make your communications resonate on the social Web.

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