This morning, I read a post over on the Vocus blog from marketing strategist and author Geoff Livingston, where he weighed the value of a blog post vs. a press release for making announcements. He was debating which one to use to announce that he would be selling his new book at an upcoming convention. Ultimately, he opted for a press release, because he thought a blog post would not be valuable enough to his readers, and would be more annoying than anything.
When a blog is well read by a community, usually it’s because the blog offers specific content. Readers want the latest from a personality or information about a subject matter. It’s critical to stay on topic and serve them well. Announcements like event appearances usually don’t work well on blogs, though you can always put a badge up on the side rail.
I totally get this. When you create content, you want to first serve your audience, and not just for the sake of creating content. And perhaps, in this particular instance, choosing a press release over a blog post was the right decision because of the context of the announcement (the book is a science fiction novel), and who Geoff is trying to target (attendees of a science fiction convention in Texas). But when is it the right time to make an announcement in a blog post, and how should you do it?
I commented on Geoff’s post, saying the following:
I think it depends on the context of the announcement. But I also think it’s OK to use a blog post to make an announcement – just write it in a different way. Don’t slap your press release into a blog post. Tell a different story and put it in context for the readers so they’re not turned off.
The keyphrase here is “tell a different story.” A press release is meant to deliver news, particularly to the media. They’re written in a way to provide the essential facts of the story to the media. Yes, you want to tell a story through your press releases so journalists and editors find it interesting and newsworthy enough to write about. But if you’re writing a blog post to make the same announcement, you don’t want to write it the same way as a press release. That is what will annoy and alienate your readers.
So, if you’re launching a book, or announcing a new product, or anything else important in the history of your company or brand, then it’s OK to write a blog post – just tell a different story. Talk about the reasons why you did something or made a certain decision. Give some behind-the-scenes or other useful information you wouldn’t typically put into a press release. Be more candid and transparent, and put it in the context your readers are used to.
What are your thoughts? Do you use blog posts or press releases when making announcements (or both)?