RSS feeds provide a broader base to pitch story ideas

Although reporters and editors commonly rely on newswire Web sites as a primary source of story ideas, many are also turning to feed or news aggregators, such as Google Reader, to create custom information sources.

Although reporters and editors commonly rely on newswire Web sites as a primary source of story ideas, many are also turning to feed or news aggregators, such as Google Reader, to create custom information sources.

Therefore, many communications pros, as well as newswire companies, are also making rich site summary [RSS] feeds a part of their external communications strategies. The tool is helping agencies reach a broader base of journalists with story ideas, says Evan Kraus, APCO Worldwide SVP and director of APCO Online.

"I think that, strategically, what is happening in the market is that we are moving away from a [model of] pitching reporters who cover certain beats to converting our content into highly portable formats and putting it in places where all kinds of media, whether... mainstream media or bloggers, can access it," he says.

Kraus finds another reason to use feeds for outreach in a recent study, conducted by APCO and the Council of Public Relations Firms, which shows that most bloggers believe PR pros do not send them much relevant information in unsolicited press releases.

"One of the benefits of using [feeds] for outbound is that you can allow people to get the information on their own terms, which will increase the likelihood that you're going to have an impact with people who are interested in it, rather than pushing things on people who are not interested," he says. "Is that as productive as targeting folks with direct pitches? Maybe not, but over time you can reach a broader audience and get your message out there."

Although many agencies are advising clients that every new Web site they build should feature this technology, the downside is that users are likely to unsubscribe if they feel there are too many useless items, says Dave Binkowski, SVP and director of word-of-mouth marketing at MS&L.

"The thing is content, and that's what keeps [readers] coming back, and that's where the best content is going to win out," he says.

Key points:
Feeds, as opposed to direct, beat-specific pitches, can reach a broad audience of reporters and bloggers

RSS allows communications pros to avoid bombarding bloggers with useless pitches

The distribution of too many press releases or story ideas by feeds can make the source less attractive to journalists

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