Update: I should have started this post with an explanation. The following post is an informal review of a site. My students will be asked to do the same kind of exercise in their blogs during Spring semester. My intention is to be fair and critical. I believe that was achieved in this post. Comments are enabled (although moderated due to spam) and I encourage feedback. Please read the post and the accompanying comments. Thank you.
‘Podcast’ news releases. Nothing new, really. Audio file releases/actualities have been posted for stations to download for some time. But, if it is incorporated into RSS with text/script and MP3 enclosures, that would be new.
As a case study for my students (informal, as it is), I’m offering this review of their sites.
My Take On ZimmComm and TalkingNewsReleases.com
ZimmComm offers marcom services. On their site they provide a Powerpoint presentation (28mb!) illustrating their plan for delivering radio press releases (text copy and audio file includes) to stations. The .ppt did finally open in a IE window (not Firefox). It bumps along slowly with fits of stalling. But, when you get it running, it is a fairly average implementation of Powerpoint.
Also, their site still has some bumps. Chuck states in their blog that they are new to this, so we must cut them some slack. But, do you really want a marcom firm that can’t launch a site?
Some missed details:
- For <TITLE> in the <HEAD> tags they have “index” and “index2” as their nonsense titles on some pages
- No navigation back “Home” on their “Audio Posting Page“
- Your .ppt file size is too large and is corrupted on download – worked (in spurts) in IE
- Only their front page has META keywords
- Make your site cross-browser friendly: Firefox, Netscape, Mozilla, Safari … and IE.
Also, a little about ‘how’ they created their sites:
- Their ISP’s “Homestead Sitebuilder” is touted as “Simply the best” – but is it? – or was there user error?
- Why use Blogger when you already have hosting and can implement something more robust – especially for someone wanting to utilize audio – with WordPress or other blogging platforms. RSS MP3 includes are possible. Here is one site that does it … and also see WordPress support and this and this and this
- I just don’t understand why people will spend hours doing ‘beginner work’ on a site when they can get a ‘skin’ and hosting that looks professional for only a few one-time dollars ($75 or less) – or can find clean professional templates for free, or a very low cost. And those are just two of many examples.
- If it takes you four hours to create mediocre content, isn’t $75-$200 worth quality? What is your time worth? Get the ‘skin’ and then make ‘static pages’ for your website from that template. You get a consistent look that is professional and clean. Working inside the ‘WordPress loop‘ is quite easy.
KISS the web site Chuck and Cindy. Keep it simple – but professional in appearance.
Is TalkingNewsReleases.com A Viable Tactic
As for their idea of “Talking News Releases” – I don’t know. They have clients. Certainly there must be some implementations for certain clients that will work.
As podcasts, for download by interested parties, it may be a good idea. Chuck and Cindy seem to do a lot of agriculture work. I just can’t envision a lot of farmers wearing iPods and downloading this content. Maybe they would listen on their home computers.
For radio, this could work for local small stations and their farm reports. You do hear/see that – a bit – in local markets. Chuck and Cindy’s niche clientele (agriculture) may be one of the few useful target markets. Outside that, for other products/services, how many stations really ‘do’ news anymore?
I do not find any RSS feeds at TalkingNewsReleases.com – and certainly not any with enclosures, like you will find on most podcast feed sites. So, radio stations cannot easily (automatically) download the content. Also, their Powerpoint presentation notes that there is no way (currently) to track who is viewing and downloading content from their site. That’s not good. I’d think you would want to have that ready to go at launch.
A simple way to implement this? Use WordPress, instead of Blogger, for the blog and use their free WP-stattraq plugin for tracking visitors. Also, use the free tracking you can acquire from StatCounter or SiteMeter or Reinvigorate or Extreme Tracking … there are many free, or low cost, tracking alternatives.
Review / Suggestions
I am undecided about the viability of ‘talking news releases’ on a wide scale. My initial thought is that this will be a useful tactic in some markets/topics. Radio just doesn’t have the reach via news releases that it once enjoyed. Perhaps I just don’t see it. If I’m wrong, my apologies.
Chuck and Cindy seem like a nice couple. They obviously have years of experience in PR/Marcom. I feel kinda bad picking apart their new sites. They are new to ‘online’ PR. In fairness, the sites are underdevelopment. But, for a company, you don’t ‘edit live’ – you create the site and ‘then’ launch.
The idea and implementation need some work. But, it is nice to see blogs and sites being used by regional firms to test viability.
Things to do:
- Don’t post until you’re ready. When you post in your blog (this morning @ 9:03 AM), your site is pinged to millions of people. We see it almost immediately. That’s how I found you – in a PubSub search for ‘public relations’
- Don’t edit live
- Drop Blogger … use WordPress
- Implement RSS MP3 enclosures
- Implement the WP-stattraq plugin or get a Sitemeter or StatCounter for your sites
- Get a ‘skinner’ for your site/blog
- Let them setup and skin your blog for as little as $100 to $220 you get a full blown site with multiple skins
- Host the Powerpoint presentation as a HTML export from Powerpoint – it is too BIG
Good luck to Chuck and Cindy.