As we challenge the tactics used traditionally for many of the components of the marketing communications mix, I do wonder if in the age of new media, businesses still need trade media to initiate the conversation around their products. Public relations is not equal to media relations, after all.
What would happen if a company put its resources into a coherent, well-thought out, product launch on its own new media portfolio? That is if the company has one. Let's think about it for a moment.
One of the most important aspects of your product launch is the passion you can convey and that may get lost in translation.
Two of the biggest risks in going the traditional route of briefing media and going with a press release are that:
(1) the reporter or journalist may not know enough to ask more questions and get some of the details wrong, or skip important parts altogether;
(2) there may already be editorial in place with no space for your news, even though readers would find it interesting and useful.
Both issues are compounded by the fact that everyone is so stretched these days. In B2B especially, when things get tight in the economy, the ad budget is the first one to go. Trade publications rely on those funds to varying degrees for their sustenance. When the funds are meager, the print output is indeed quite thin.
Now that the SEC is poised to recognize corporate blogs as public disclosure, businesses may indeed not need traditional media and distribution channels to fulfill their obligations.
July 30, 2008 - "Under certain circumstances, companies can rely on their websites and blogs to meet the public disclosure requirements under Regulation FD (Fair Disclosure), according to new guidance unanimously approved by the US Securities and Exchange Commission today." [hat tip to Brian Solis]
The press release to me has always been one document, a step in the process of informing and disseminating the news. A well thought-out process includes analyst briefings, and a full outreach with both the media and other stakeholders - if not with full information, depending on the nature of the news, at least as a courtesy and heads up.
I am not suggesting that we do away with wire distribution - the way things are set up today, as Brian points out, those services fill a necessary role in the mix. I am focusing more on the news value to your customers and prospects. Many of them never see the wires and in some cases the volume of news on certain portals is such that they might miss it anyway. They can easily choose to pull your content through RSS.
Plus we have more robust search engines than we did a few years ago. Think about search engine optimization (SEO) working with appropriate social tags and the right search engine marketing (SEM) program. Digital imprints can be precise if you are. Honesty pays off in the long run when you select your language and tags wisely.
Many have talked about the social media release. We discussed it here, too.
The format may be helpful particularly if you have something that is not real news, yet it has not really been covered in the marketplace. You can do a show and tell, have interviews with customers, the product group, engineers, scientists or anyone who has worked on the product to enhance it.
It's your chance to get the information right, to go into as much depth as your customers need and want. And it will give you the added bonus of telling the news the way it should be told. Have you ever wondered why a reporter did not cover a specific data point?
Providing many data points and creating a complete picture on your site or blog may also afford you the added benefit that when the news hits the wire, if it does, you will have a ready portal to help reporters and journalists with their research and media assets.
Expecting that the media will do all the heavy lifting for you and your customers is also unrealistic. Think about your products and services, how could you make them come alive as you announce them? Steve Jobs does an impressive presentation for Apple. Lots of work and drama goes into building the right kind of anticipation and talk in the marketplace. There was a time when Steve Jobs started this tradition.
What kinds of web assets, new media hubs, events, discussions, forums could you build for your product announcements? How could you create a signature appointment with your customers and partners? B2B does not have to mean boring.
[images from WWDG 2008 Steve Jobs Keynote -iPhone 3G]