RSS feeds are the power behind the blog, podcast boom

With all of the attention blogs and podcasts have been getting over the past year, it can be easy to forget about the concept that makes them so powerful in the first place: Real Simple Syndication (RSS) feeds.

With all of the attention blogs and podcasts have been getting over the past year, it can be easy to forget about the concept that makes them so powerful in the first place: Real Simple Syndication (RSS) feeds.

"We must talk to all audiences in the way they want to be spoken to," says Doyle Albee, director of the new media practice at Metzger Associates in Boulder, CO. RSS feeds play a key role.

Wilson Cleveland, head of new media services at New York-based Cubitt Jacobs & Prosek Communications (CJPC), says dispensing news releases over an RSS feed eliminates the need to depend on a third-party journalist to report client news. "For PR pros, it should supplement e-mail to reporters," he says.

The type of RSS feed you set up varies depending on the client. Cleveland notes that an RSS feed is a good choice for clients that can offer comment on breaking news. For example, when IBM announced that it was cutting its employees pension plans, one
of CJPC's financial clients used an RSS feed to issue alternative ways to invest money.

Larger companies may choose to have separate feeds for different topics, including financial news, product news, or staff changes.

For some smaller clients, Cleveland says RSS feeds can be a low-cost alternative to newswires. Some companies choose to use newswires to distribute only big company news and then rely on RSS feeds to issue comments on breaking news, he adds.

Bob Geller, SVP at tech agency Fusion PR, says incidents with e-mail getting caught in journalists' spam filters create the need for another more technologically advanced delivery method, such as RSS.

Geller advises clients to look at RSS feeds as an important communications channel. "One simple application, which almost anyone can take advantage of, is incorporating...RSS technology into online media rooms," he says. And content needn't be limited to press releases; Geller advises setting up separate feeds for white papers, case studies, and executive commentary.

Key points:

RSS feeds allow clients to distribute news releases, blog postings, or podcasts to all interested parties

For small entities, RSS feeds can be used in lieu of larger newswire services or can be mixed and matched with newswire releases

RSS feeds require minimum investment

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