Embargoes, Corporate Blogs and Getting a Story Out

Over the past few days, the way the news is done (as told by blogs) has been challenged once again. Mike Arrington, in a moment I can only assume was brought on in frustration by another mismanaged embargoed story, declared unilaterally that TechCrunch would agree to any embargo and proceed to break it thereafter.

Marshall Kirkpatrick came out on the other side re-assuring the public that Read Write Web would honor embargoes.

This morning, Jeremiah Owyang, who I skewered recently over sponsored post opinions, started asking some great questions around the communications of “hot” stories – that is, stories that companies deem newsworthy and seek coverage from bloggers on.

Jeremiah wonders why companies don’t disseminate this information themselves? The answer is: They do. Everyday, thousands of press releases are sent out, most of which fall on deaf ears.

Companies, realizing the difficulty in communicating online in an internet age, have turned to blogs as things they must have. The problem, however, is that traditional communication tactics have been applied to a corporate blogging strategy (you do know the difference between tactics and strategy, right?).

In other words, most corporate blogs are boring. Nobody reads them. Nobody cares. And so, most companies handling their own “news” stories will fall on deaf ears. It’s a numbers game. Get the story to the top blogs in the space that cover the genre of product or service, and you get the most eyeballs. Get more eyeballs, the percentage of sales go up.

The Corporate blogs that are effective are the blogs that participate in the larger community. They not only promote their own products, but they have a distinct outwardly looking mentality that helps their readers be better people, business people, marketers, wives, husbands, internet citizen, etc. They enable community, which benefits their own business.

Most corporate blogs have not figured this out. Instead, they are used primarily to shill their own products and services and let’s be honest, everyone hates getting spammed. Thus, the corporate blogs are not read and the companies are left relying on bloggers such as Mike Arrington to get their messages out.

In an ideal world, Jeremiah’s concept would be best. Businesses would have respected and competent media arms that could disseminate and challenge the community and cause effective bounce in their online presence.

If you’re a corporate blogger, I’d be particularly interested in your thoughts on this.

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Aaron Brazell

Aaron Brazell is a Baltimore, MD-based WordPress developer, a co-founder at WP Engine, WordPress core contributor and author. He wrote the book WordPress Bible and has been publishing on the web since 2000. You can follow him on Twitter, on his personal blog and view his photography at The Aperture Filter.

6 thoughts on “Embargoes, Corporate Blogs and Getting a Story Out”

  1. Just when I think you are losing your touch, you come out with something that gives me a reason to cheer.

    “In other words, most corporate blogs are boring. Nobody reads them. Nobody cares. And so, most companies handling their own “news” stories will fall on deaf ears. It’s a numbers game. Get the story to the top blogs in the space that cover the genre of product or service, and you get the most eyeballs. Get more eyeballs, the percentage of sales go up.”

    Our metrics are all messed up to be certain. Social media Consultants make your client’s blogs not suck! Geoff talked about this a little with the guys at the Blog Council. This conversation needs to continue.

  2. -Most corporations have empowered the wrong people to be their brand embassadors/bloggers.
    -How many are following is overpowering who is following and why.
    -Traditional PR is clawing to remain relevant, it will get uglier, then it will morph.

  3. I agree, Aaron.

    I think there are two pieces usually missing from corporate blogs that make them successful: 1) A strategy 2) The customer. All the ‘experts’ out there talk about transparency, engagement, blah, blah, blah. More marketing words that mean crap.

    A corporate blog simply needs to be effective in answering the question the reader came there for! Don’t waste my time with your bloviating, Mr.-Corporate-Marketer-turned-Blogger… just give me the answer! If I like the answer and I trust you, I’ll develop a relationship with you and buy from you. If not, I’m on to the next Search Result.

  4. Good one, Aaron. I think Jeremiah’s statement betrays a lack of knowledge about corporate comms and their stakeholders. Most stakeholders don’t care about the company and what it has to say, and much less their blogs, as Jeremiah’s own firm Forrester told us last week. So when said companies publish their “news” it usually falls on deaf ears. THat creates immense pressure to get media — new and old — to cover stories.

    Embargoes are ways of getting top outlets to publish stories, and give them enough time to digest the information and publish a decent story. Techcrunch bailing on embargoes will hurt Arrington more than it will help him in the long run. At least that’s my belief. There is competition out there and there’s only so much bad will you can spray on the world before the world starts spraying it back. Or just stops coming to get sprayed on.

  5. Aaron, I’m curious to know: Do you think there are any companies out there that are doing a good job of disseminating news about themselves through their own blogs or other channels? Like, say, Google or Sony with its PlayStation blog?

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