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PR Web seems to be getting under bloggers’ skin lately, and I butted heads with them today over a press release. We worked it out, but the issues indicate that PR Web needs to make some changes.
In 2000, I wrote a much-quoted article entitled “The Traditional Press Release is Dead.” It said that electronic news distribution requires a new format for releases, one that can be read quickly from a computer screen.
In my opinion, the so-called Social Media Press Release is a bit of over-kill, too new-fangled and self-conscious for my taste. I think bloggers and MSM journalists can click a link to find lists and code on a web page if they are interested in running a story. The format I generally use is Who, What, Where, When, and How. But the style also has to fit the subject.
If you write about something funny or silly, it wouldn’t make a lot of sense to use a formal style or, for that matter, a social media release template.
releasepic1.pngSo when I got a call from a PR Web rep telling me my release, because it wasn’t entirely written in third person, was “too much like an ad”, I was pretty surprised. I would not make up quotes from the president of in a release about their Save-Your-Ass late Valentine’s gift shipping for procrastinating paramours. (The final release, which goes out Feb 13, is below)
Long story short, I compromised with PR Web, taking out some of the “your” and “our”, but not all of them. I wrote the release exactly as I think it might run in a blog post or in mainstream media. It’s a casual topic, and it’s a casual release.
The first several people I spoke to today at PR Web were of no help. They used the Neurenbourg philisophy: “I’m only following orders.” When I escalated my call to Denair Healy at Vocus, which owns PR Web, we had a rational conversation and it was clear that she is aware of the issues and wants to foster change at PR Web.
The bottom line: the immediacy and intimacy of online writing, particularly by bloggers, has led to a much more casual and much less impersonal style in mainstream media. Both corporations and MSM have had to adopt a less formal, more human, style of communicating, without hiding behind the third-party veil.
We want to know with whom we are speaking; we want what they say to sound like it came out of a human being’s mouth and not a lawyer’s pen; and we want to be able to talk back. That’s accountability, transparency, and life today.
I don’t expect that PR firms will lead the way. I despair of them ever even finding the path.
Google News has its own set of writing rules for what it will accept, and some of them are less than realistic too. PR Web and other press release distribution services are no doubt in a better position to negotiate with Google than lone bloggers, but I hope bloggers get a seat at the table when the conversation finally begins.

Northbridge, CA (PRWEB) February 13, 2008 — Forgot to order a gift for Valentine’s Day? You’re in serious hot water. No nookie for you. Order on Valentine’s Day, and’s Save-Your-Ass late Valentine gift shipping guarantees that a whimsical Valentine gift will arrive on Feb. 15th. They’ll even lie for procrastinating paramours and say the late gift is their fault. will take the heat for the post-Valentine’s-Day-delivery. Procrastinators can choose from six different funny Valentine gift packages of GeekyBeek PuckerUps — the cutest little geeky desk, shelf or lawn ornaments ever.
GardenFun will call the recipient on Valentine’s Day to apologize profusely for the shipping delay. They’ll say the Valentine’s Gift was ordered early, but they screwed up, or it fell off the truck, or was delayed in transit, etc.
There are six different GeekyBeek PuckerUp last-minute Valentine gift packages to choose from, ranging from $44.99 to $129.99.
The Save-Your-Ass last-minute Valentine gift shipping offer disappears from GardenFun’s website at midnight on the 14th and they’ll deny that it ever existed.
GeekyBeek lovebirds are unique, creative, hand-painted Valentine’s gifts likelyto appeal equally to romantic lovers, geek girls or boys, co-workers, kids, teachers, family and friends. You can send a few or get the flock out.
Additional resources:
YouTube: GeekyBeeks Take Manhattan video
Flickr: GeekyBeek Flickr Group
### Posted by By B.L. Ochman