The marriage of web marketing and PR
One interesting side track on my career has been my involvement in public relations as part of my job as the marketing director at a ski resort. 5 years ago, a lifetime in web world, I headed up the PR efforts of 3 of our resorts. With no PR experience but a boatload of time spent in publishing and communications, I relied on the journalistic style of writing - the 5 "w's", inverted pyramid organization, etc. etc. Press releases were usually faxed and a media kit mailed to media contacts, whose names and addresses were stored on Rolodexes (remember those?).
Fast forward to 2007 and PR is now just another tool in the SEO arsenal. The press release is now not only for journalists, it's for spiders. Now standard conventions, like having your contact name and number at the top of a release, are no more. You can't waste that prime spider-seeking real estate on things like your name. Now headlines, subheads and bullet summary points take top placement. The release is lit up like a Christmas tree with hyperlinks, pull quotes and highlighted text.
The web marketer in me is proud. This is using the medium to its full advantage.
But the journalist in me reviews this electronic mishmash and scratches my head. How will this translate to print? Are more hard-bitten reporter-types going to embrace this brave new world?
The proof is in the results. Now my email releases leave a trail of breadcrumbs, telling me who has opened my email, who has clicked on which links, even who has changed jobs (as their email addresses bounce). It is micro-feedback to the max. I can even follow up with only those media members who have shown an interest in my story ideas. Or delete those that haven't opened a release all year. Try that with a hard copy media kit!
Of course, PR has never been about the writing. It's about the relationships you develop with your media contacts. Now we just need to make room at the table for the spiders.