Using blogs for public relations is new territory for most traditional PR practitioners. I recently engaged in a Q/A about blogs and RSS with a PR agency specialist that I thought would be interesting to post here. If you’ve been in the business of blogging for any length of time, you’ll see how telling the questions are as to the perception of RSS/blogs and how much room there is for clarification and education.
What are the most popular news feeds to subscribe to?
The beauty of RSS is that there are so many niche, quality sources. However, the most popular feeds overall may not be the best for any one individual. In other words, it depends on the interests of the user. In terms of overall popularity, here are several lists of popular blogs/feeds:
You can also find feeds using one of the many blog search engines such as: Technorati, Google Blog Search, Feedster or Gada.be.
If a journalist is using an aggregator, which news feeds does it draw from?
Most feed aggregators offer pre-selected feeds to general news sources, but you can add feeds directly from blogs of interest. When you visit a blog, there are often subscription buttons for the various feed readers and aggregators. Clicking on one will subscribe you to that feed. You can also subscribe to feeds from other sources such as search results from Yahoo News, MSN search results or social bookmark sites like del.icio.us.
How can a PR firm submit news to RSS feeds?
When an entry is made to a blog, it automatically places that information to a web page and also as a post to a corresponding RSS feed. Itâ€™s possible to create a feed manually using software if a blog is not desired.
Other opportunities to get your news out via RSS include making sure your blog software is configured so that each time a post is made, a â€œpingâ€? is sent out the the major blog and RSS search engines to notify them youâ€™ve made an update.
If a blogger picks up your release then it will be included in the RSS feed of that blog and all of it’s subscribers. You can also promote a blog through the major blog directories.
Wire services such as PRWeb will automatically offer a form of your press release as part of an RSS feed which can be pinged to RSS search engines.
If your press releases are archived and managed with a blog, then readers (including journalists) can subscribe to the corresponding RSS feed. Increasingly, journalists are prone to pulling news ideas and sources in, rather than relying on the deluge of press releases being pushed to them via email. Making sure the press release RSS feed is added to the main company site in an auto discovery tag enables visitors using a RSS-friendly browser to subscribe without having to navigate to that part of the site with their browser.
Is there any way to find out which news feeds journalists are using (without asking them)?
Sort of. You can gain some insight by visiting journalists blogs and seeing who is listed in their blogroll – which is a list of links to other blogs that they like.
Also, you can see if they have a del.icio.us account. If you could see the sites a journalist has bookmarked it may gain some insight into whatâ€™s interesting to them. Thatâ€™s what viewing their del.icio.us account could do,- if they have one. Here is a screencast by prominent tech journalist, Jon Udell explaining how he uses del.icio.us to track memes and find information for stories. Very insightful for blogger PR.
Tools such as similicious, Alexa and TouchGraph Google Browser are useful for finding similar or related blogs and may prove useful for discovering journalist blogs that focus on particular industries or related topics.
Another useful feature of RSS is to monitor search results as a feed based on a keyword query. If you want to monitor a certain Journalist, publication or topic, you can perform the corresponding keyword query at a Yahoo, Yahoo News, Google News, Google Blog Search, BlogPulse and others and subscribe to the search results in your Feed Reader/Aggregator – sort of like Google Alerts on steriods.
BlogPulse and PubSub offer excellent blog tracking tools and Aaron Wall has an excellent blog post listing trending and tracking tools for the blogosphere and newsosphere.
There’s a lot more to blogger PR than these few questions and answers. But they do provide some insight into what PR firms are thinking and hopefully a few useful tools.