Are Press Releases A PR Strategy?

Chuck Zimmerman

I think they can be a very important part of a communications plan or we wouldn’t have a business that focuses on the production and distribution of press releases. I like to refer to them as news releases since reporters are looking for news. They’re not looking for an opportunity to provide free publicity to some company or organization (usually).

Here’s an interesting post that I thought you might want to read and contemplate. I will admit to not having read the book, which is the subject of the post. But it does contain some excerpts and in particular I agree with one phrase about genuinely helping the reporter do their job. That’s why we strongly encourage sending audio to radio reporters. That helps them and makes your release more likely to be “used.” So here’s that post. I’d be interested in your thoughts, especially if you’ve read the whole book.

Saturday, January 29

Press Releases Are Not a PR Strategy

* A new book from PR expert Linda VandeVrede takes a fresh look at our misunderstood discipline. The title of her book: Press Releases Are Not a PR Strategy. Some selling points of her public relations analysis:

“If you think your company’s lack of success in gaining “ink” in your favored publications is due to a dearth of news releases or a lack of hard-hitting messages that resonate with your customers, you may want to think again.”

High on the book’s myth list is the venerable press release. “In our digital world of minute-by-minute news updates and rampant information overload, press releases can be the least effective way to get your message across to your target audience,” says VandeVrede.

Who is the target audience for PR? Not the purchaser or end user of your products and services, as most companies believe. Instead, VandeVrede’s book maintains that, the editors and analysts responsible for writing about your company and its products can be your biggest obstacles or your strongest allies in getting your message across — and genuinely helping them to do their jobs can pay big benefits.

“One of the best lessons in this book is that the editor is your boss,” says Lisa Vaas, associate editor, eWEEK.com. “Not the product, nor the company. The best thing that a PR rep can do for me is enable me to deliver something honest and timely to my readers.”

posted by PR Machine at 1/29/2005

Public Relations

Busy Week For Talking News Releases Coming Up

Chuck Zimmerman

Things are heating up here at the office. We’ve got projects going on this coming week for United Soybean Board, National Biodiesel, Missouri Corn Growers Association, Missouri Beef Industry Council and of course Southeast AgNet.

Plus I’ll be travelling to the 2005 Cattle Industry Convention on Wednesday and hopefully blogging my way through it, going and coming. Look for audio, pictures, thoughts, news and just about anything I come up with.

There’s a big trade show there and I plan to talk to as many communications people as I can to find out how enlightened they are about the blogging and Talking News Releases.

Check back often or better yet subscribe to our blog and be notified of new posts automatically.

Talking News Release

Can A Blog Replace a Website?

Chuck Zimmerman

That’s basically the question I was asked yesterday during a presentation to the executive staff of a division of a major ag company. They appear to be very frustrated getting information on their traditional website in a timely manner since it has to go through the “technical” folks who are always very “busy.”

I told them that although the answer is yes, since a blog is a website, they might want to consider a marriage of the two styles. They could for example make their blog the home page and have links to pages of static information that’s necessary, like contacts, products, ordering. The blog itself could be their constantly updated place to put the information they’re frustrated about.

They have researchers and field staff who have projects, thoughts and opinions that they want customers to know about. By setting the blog up properly they could actually all post to it. I think 4 of the 6 people attending had Blackberry’s. I told them they could actually email their post to their website from their little pda/phone and that got them even more interested!

They might even consider a blog of blogs. Meaning a blog page that links to blogs on separate topics like those of each division.

They were worried about letting just anyone post comments because of the fear of negative comments. However, as their communications director pointed out, they want honest feedback and if someone posts a “stupid” negative comment others will see it for what it is.

I cautioned them against restricting people from commenting since it seems like they might then run the danger of being seen as only an updated “commercial.”

All of this started from a discussion of the traditional news release and taking them a step further by turning them into Talking News Releases. With the audio we produce they could then post full interviews on different subjects on their website or blog. That’s when they asked “What’s a blog?” And then we were really off to the races.

We even got into podcasting for those of you who are really enlightened. I’ll be writing more about this new form of audio distribution soon so stay tuned.

Blogging, Public Relations

Reaching Consumers With TNR’s

Chuck Zimmerman

We like to talk about beef around ZimmComm. That’s because one of our regular clients is the Missouri Beef Industry Council. Of course you can see a picture of Steve, the Executive Director in a previous post.

Besides doing producer communications we also produce TNR’s (Talking News Releases) targeted to the general public promoting beef.

You can link to our latest release promoting the National Beef Check-off and see how we regionalize it for Missouri distribution. This can easily be done for any area of the country.

I think I’ll go have a hamburger now!

Talking News Release

More Good Info On Blogging For Business – Perhaps Agribusiness?

Chuck Zimmerman

I was just forwarded a link to this article on WebProNews.com. More good information and links to resources. It may seem overwhelming at first glance if you’ve never been involved in blogging but it becomes easier as you realize how the technology allows you to communicate information in a fast, personal way.

I spoke with an overworked agricultural organization communications director this morning. When I asked him about creating a blog and featuring a link to it on their webpage his response was “I’m loathe to create a monster I can’t feed.”

I understand. That’s why you need ZimmComm. I said, “Just email me information you would want to post if you had time. I’ll do it for you.” In fact, everyone on his staff could just send us their ideas and we’ll do the posting for them. With 3 or 4 people sending little notes and ideas I’ve no doubt we could generate frequent content!

Of course, I would want to make sure the blog clearly states that ZimmComm’s providing a “posting” service and the individual posts would be attributed to the person who submitted it. Anything wrong with that?

What do you think?

Blogging

Great Info On Blogging & PR

Chuck Zimmerman

There’s a growing amount of information available on blogging and the impact this is having on public relations. For example the first ever Blog Business Summit just concluded in Seattle. I almost went but business is good (busy) and I can read all about it through several blogs like Tom Peter’s.

Another resource of information is Global PR Week.

Here’s the heading on the site:

“Looking forward to 2.0

The first edition of the Global PR Blog Week 1.0 is now over. During one week, 35 practioners published more than 60 articles and interviews on the impact of personal publishing on Public Relations. Enjoy the reading – and stay tuned for version 2.0.”

You may want to browse on over and click around!

What does this have to do with agricultural communications? Everything! Farmers are like the general public in their internet habits and with USDA providing so much financing in the last couple years for the development of rural broadband access, you’re going to see some amazing things happen in the ag communications world. If you need some help figuring it all out please give me a call. I’d be happy to consult on your blogging project!

Blogging, Public Relations

Helping Farmers Understand ARMS

Chuck Zimmerman


The Missouri Agricultural Statistics Service is using ZimmComm to send a series of 5 Talking News Releases to reporters around Missouri as part of their efforts to inform producers about the current ARMS (Agricultural Resource Management Survey) Survey that’s being conducted through the end of March. Here you can see me interviewing Gene Danekas, Missouri Director of Statistics, for audio we’ll include with the next release scheduled for distribution on February 7. Gene just recently presented this strategy to a group of visiting agricultural statisticians who were in Kansas City. Posted by Hello

Audio, Government, Talking News Release

Interesting Lunch Questions

Chuck Zimmerman

At lunch today the discussion centered around blogging of course and how this might become useful in the agricultural communications world since there isn’t much of it yet.

I’m going to write about a couple of the questions that were raised since I think they are of widespread interest. For example, it’s going to be somewhat challenging but I’m going to have to address the NAFB (National Association of Farm Broadcasters). I’ve been a member since about 1985 and still am but they’re facing some challenges. This should make for some interesting posts and I hope comments!

First, however, I’d like to challenge communications professionals to think about distributing information in a very new way. Blog it! Especially as it relates to you member organizations who hold big conventions and trade shows.

I’ll be attending the 2005 Cattle Industry Convention in San Antonio and plan to provide plenty of posts going and coming. Especially since I just got my Dell AXIM pda a great little wireless lan card that I tested out tonight. I’ll be looking for those wi-fi hotspots!

Media

Example of a Talking News Release

Chuck Zimmerman

This is an example of a TNR we just distributed. You’ll notice that it contains a link to a fully-produced story that’s already voiced for the reporter to include in his/her newscast. They can also edit out the sound bites if they want.

Another format we regularly produce is a release with files links for sound bites only. This way the reporter writes their own story and has sound bites to insert into their newscast.

Contact me for other examples: chuck@zimmcomm.biz


Missouri Agricultural Statistics Service
601 Business Loop 70 West
Columbia, MO 65203
http://agebb.missouri.edu/mass

Contact: Gene Danekas, Director of Statistics
573-876-0950, Gene_Danekas@nass.usda.gov

ARMS Survey To Benefit
All Missourians

This is the second in a series of 5 reports which will be distributed every two weeks during the term of this survey.

Click Here For Audio Report: MO NASS ARMS Report 2 (1:27)

The linked audio will automatically download when you click on it. It contains a fully produced story to use in your programming or you may choose to voice yourself and edit out the sound bites. Please contact ZimmComm at talkingnewsrelease@zimmcomm.biz if you have any problems.

Columbia, MO, January 24, 2005: The Missouri Agricultural Statistics Service recently sent an important survey to some 1100 farmers and ranchers in the state. Cindy Zimmerman reports.

When the surveys are returned they will help to reveal a picture of the economic health of the state’s ag industry and provide important data on production practices and resource use. American Farm Bureau chief economist Bob Young, former co-director for the University of Missouri’s Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute, says the Agricultural Resource Management Survey provides vital information on many levels.

“I’ve looked at this from the legislative side, the trade association side, the academic side and I couldn’t have done my job in any of those positions without this information in hand.”

The ARMS data is used for a wide variety of purposes, such as determining farm program loans and government payments, monitoring the benefits of farm bill programs, and evaluating economic challenges facing farmers and ranchers. Missouri Farm Bureau Federation president Charlie Kruse says the data also benefits farmers and ranchers on the state level.

“We use this information to make points about the importance of agriculture to Missouri, about the diversity of agriculture in our state, and also in our dealings with policy makers, whether they are legislators in the state capitol or members of our state congressional delegation, it’s so important to have the right information.”

Missouri agricultural producers who are chosen to participate in the survey are strongly urged to complete and return their forms as soon as possible.

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This Talking News Release is being distributed by ZimmComm, http://zimmcomm.biz/ . Please provide to the appropriate reporter or editor at your organization or to others who will be interested in the content. If you do not wish to receive future Talking News Releases, please contact Chuck Zimmerman at talkingnewsrelease@zimmcomm.biz or by telephone at 573-896-5842 or mail at 1600 Skyview Dr., Holts Summit, MO 65043. Talking News Releases are produced and distributed by ZimmComm, a private marketing and communications company. Please feel free to submit your ideas or suggestions for how we may improve our service. Thanks!

Audio, Talking News Release