Idea: Press Releases Are From Venus, Blog Posts Are From Mars
By Rex Hammock
Occasionally, I run across something labeled a “company blog.” But instead of blog posts, the content is an archive of the company’s press releases. While it’s important for a company to publish press releases on its website at the same time it releases them to the world, the company blog should not be used as a press release archive. Having a clear point of view on the difference between press releases and blog posts can help communicate more precisely the topic of the message and for whom the message is intended.
How press releases differ from blog posts:
- Press releases are issued by an institution. Blog posts are messages from individuals.
- Press releases are written in a unique third-person style in which the organization writes about itself: “Bob Dole Inc. today announced the launch of a new product.” A blog post is written in the first person: “I’m happy to announce that we launched a new product today. Here’s why.”
- Press releases aren’t written for the end reader, but for an intermediary: A reporter, analyst, government regulator, curator or influencer. Blog posts are written for customers, members and supporters.
- Press releases carry dozens of quotes, but don’t have a voice. Blog posts rarely use quotations, but every sentence is quotable in the voice of the person who wrote it.
Why You Need Both Press Releases and Blog Posts
While my comparison of posts and releases might suggest I’m not a big fan of press releases, that’s not the case. As I noted, press releases serve a specific function in communicating official messages to an interpreter to the intended stakeholder. In many instances, press releases serve as regulatory necessity.
But in an era when authenticity and transparency is expected by customers, institutional messaging doesn’t work.
Here’s a recent example. When LinkedIn discovered millions of usernames and passwords from a four-year-old criminal hack were being sold online, it didn’t issue an institutional press release with quotes from the CEO. Instead, the company’s Chief Information Security Officer posted an in-depth explanation and point-by-point explanation of what the company was doing to address the problem—all written in language anyone could understand. And then, over the course of the next few days, the post was updated to keep users aware of the company’s progress.
Bottom line for marketers: The day will come when it will be critical to have a channel of communication between individuals in your company and stakeholders important to your company’s success. While press releases are required for financial and legal purposes, the company blog should be used as an ongoing conversation between company employees and their valued customers.