Some citizen journalists are making mistakes not seen since the dotcom days”

Intent on breaking through the virtual clutter of the blogosphere, more and more bloggers seem intent on formalizing and distributing their ideas through press releases sent out by such services as ExpertClick’s News release wire. One blogger (who shall not be called out) has actually made a new year’s resolution of posting at least one press release a week. The releases would provide the blogger’s views on news of the day in the hope that virtual, industry and other types of media either pick up the quotes or call her for additional comments.

Yikes. Talk about information overload. Does the world really need a press release a week from bloggers? And, have we learned nothing from the dotcom days? It seems like only yesterday that hoards of 26-year-old Stanford MBA-toting, pre-IPO dotcom CEOs (and their stock options rich CMOs) were flooding the newswires with press release after meaningless press release. Hellbent on either attaining or protecting that coveted ‘first-mover’ status, the dotcom firms worked 24X7 to launch their new web-enabled product or service. Key to their business "strategy" was communicating to the legions of day traders who, when the dotcom went public, would be instrumental in their subsequent success.

And the PR firms (ours included) went right along with this non-strategy. Two, three, four or more press releases were issued each week. And, 99 percent contained no news of value whatsoever. In fact, it wasn’t even about the news with the dotcoms. It was about cueing up the public offering.

I sure don’t miss those days or those demanding dotcom execs. But, looking back, one would think bloggers would be more sensitive to press release mania. As a firm, I know we push back hard now when we question the newsworthiness of a client announcement. The blogosphere needs some sort of ‘pushback’ mechanism as well. Otherwise, strategies such as the press release a week will overwhelm a medium that is already long on content and short on quality.

Thanks to Linda VandeVrede for her thoughts.

4 thoughts on “Some citizen journalists are making mistakes not seen since the dotcom days”

  1. Isaac, no question agencies and marketers are being forced to adapt. The rules (from content to distribution) have changed completely. Consumers are influencing marketing strategy as never before, which is a good thing in my opinion. It’s making marketers and agencies wake up to the fact that the old school “targeting” mentality (lining up consumers and shooting arrows at them) isn’t the best approach. It’s about collaboration, engagement, and bringing consumers into the dialogue by providing them with valuable and compelling content.
    Yes, the Web has had a profound impact on the way people think, interact, and do business. And yes, it’s also increased media fragmentation and intensified the level of distractions in an already cluttered communications environment. But in the same way that Web “gridlock” has presented a challenge to marketers, it’s also proven to be incredibly powerful.
    Consumers are spreading, linking, reposting, and conversing about ads. They are reading articles about brands in mainstream media and then forwarding the story to friends. They are using “social” Web tools such as Digg, and RSS to share, archive, rate, and receive news. Most of this news still originates and trickles down from the online editions of NYT, WSJ, USA Today, etc. Marketers and agencies are getting up-to-speed and evolving with the times. They realize the power (and risk) of online word of mouth and they are doing their best to leverage that power. Take a look at the various viral campaigns from 06 (and all of the consumer-centric campaigns running during this year’s Super Bowl) and you will see that some advertisers are doing a better job than others.

  2. of course ad and pr firms are devoting more time to the “digital world.” you know why- b/c as i said, if you can’t beat em, join em! this world of blogging isn’t something that pr or ad firms want out there- it’s killing them, so they are forced to embrace it. just think- thanks to www some guy has a 2.5 million dollar sponsor for his proposal to his current girlfriend on the superbowl! none of this were possible if not for the www.
    so what happens, now some pr guy jumps all over this idea and is trying to make a fortune off of this. and this is happening b/c the “citizen journalists” are running circles around pr and ad folks. no one has to pay top retainers to get their message to millions of people anymore- now sites like youtube and facebook and myspace make it all possible to ANYONE. and guess what- pr and advertising have NOTHING to do with it. but they can’t be left behind so instead they embrace the digital world and try to make their own money off if it. unfortunately for pr and ad firms, now every john doe sitting at his/her computer can reach a lot more people faster than a pr firm ever could, and all it takes is a few keystrokes.

  3. MedMan, you’re jumping to wrong conclusions. The blogosphere is indeed getting more crowded than a NYC subway train at rush hour, but that doesn’t mean it’s losing its impact. Just the opposite is true. In fact, if you were still in the industry, you’d know that most PR and advertising firms are devoting more and more resources to the digital realm. It’s here to stay. Bogus blog content & press releases are overlooked, just like they were by traditional media in the dotcom days.

  4. repman- for the first time in a while, i have to call you out on this one and disagree. you have been beating the “citizen journalist” drum the past year but now it all backfires. see, your first line says it all “Intent on breaking through the virtual clutter of the blogosphere…”
    that has been my point since day one. sure, blogging is cool and makes for an interesting read, but that is all it is! b/c everyone, their cat and the unwelcomed occasional mouse has a blog these days, there is virtual gridlock on the information superhighway. and each day thousands of new blogs are created-therby making all the others that much less relevant. being that there is only so much time in the day, people read a few blogs, but when their friend does one, and their company has one etc etc etc., they spend less and less time visting each one.
    and the problem is only getting worse. this is why the whole blog thing will be overdone and web 3.0 will soon exist. so the idea of sending a press release about a blog is exactly like any pr firm developing a co-branded survey b/c every other firm is sending out survey news as well. sure, its a great idea and works for a while, but as others evolve, you got to keep trying to find something new.
    so don’t knock the press release a week diet, b/c as you said, its something that everyone did in the past. the only difference is that now, there is that much more clutter that pr firms have to break through. my opinion is that if anything, blogging is killing the pr trade, and as the old adage goes- if you can’t beat em, join em!