Arianna Huffington Says The Press Release Is Over…

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… but she hasn’t a clue what she is talking about.

I wrote a piece a couple of weeks ago for MarketingProfs where I explained that the reason the PR industry is dying… because too few of its so-called professionals don’t understand what they are talking about. As a result, there are too many commentators that don’t know their PR from their marketing and publicity.  Comments Arianna’s in an Inc magazine interview are the perfect example of what I’m talking about.  That, and my assertion that self-titled ‘experts’ creating content that misleads the, often uninformed, reader.

Arianna says that she thinks that content marketing, ‘or whatever the buzzword of the day…” is a better strategy for small businesses than public relations.  Sorry Arianna, the two are very different things and marketing – content or otherwise – can’t replace public relations.  Public relations is about building mutually beneficial relationships, based on trust and credibility.  Marketing is everything an organization does to get an audience to take action on your behalf.  Marketing is easier if you have the relationships in place.

Whether the press release is dead… it is if it’s done badly – as is the case with the majority that are written and distributed.  If the purpose is clear, the release is carefully written, is delivered to the right audience and using the most appropriate delivery mechanism then it is still a valuable PR and publicity tool.  Whether it is PR or publicity depends on the desired outcome: are you trying to inform [publicity] or build relationships [PR].

The other issue I have with Arianna’s ‘advice’ is that it’s based on her business.  It’s like me telling you that in order to get to a destination – say a Starbucks – you need to turn right outside of your front door, turn left after 50m and then left again.  Walk 500m and you’ll arrive at your destination.  While this works for me, it is unlikely the same ‘strategy’ will work for you.

Content works best for Arianna because her business is in online publishing.  She is able to sell advertising based on the amount of traffic to the site.  For many startups and small businesses page impressions have little or no value.  Content shared is only valuable if it is shared with the right audience – people that are likely and able to become customers, investors, beta-testers or champions.  If they fall outside of the target audience for an early-stage business then content sharing has no commercial value at all.

And, so the final words of caution when listening to advice from somebody that doesn’t understand your business in detail… context is everything.  Beware of generic, broad-brush proclamations – it may not be good advice for your business and is not likely to deliver the results you hope for.

You can get the PR, marketing and publicity advice your business needs today, starting with just a 15-minute introductory session.  After that, you can tailor a program that is customized to your business’s specific PR needs

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