Is Tom Foremski talking about XPRL?

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Tom Foremski at SiliconValleyWatcher has had another one of his rants about the PR industry and press releases. I’m amused by his reference to press releases which is one of my pet peeves. NEWS releases are what I’ve written my whole career. It’s an in your face reminder that it must always contain news and that you’re not just dealing with the press but the media.

Tom’s idea of ‘tagging’ news releases (or at least his version of them) is an interesting one. Except that it’s not particularly new. Way back in 2001 XPRL.org was set up to develop mark-up standards for the public relations industry. I’m not entirely sure what happened to it. Perhaps David Phillips can enlighten us, as he was one of the original leading lights.

The key to understanding the problem with Tom’s approach is in his tagline "Former FT reporter….". A news release is the LAST possible tool I would think of using in order to get coverage in the Financial Times. That would partially explain Tom’s antipathy towards news releases.

But the point is that news releases are still one of the best tools for reaching hundreds of other journalists that are less high-profile. A news release can still get a client very good coverage in hundreds of trade magazines and regional newspapers that are extremely important to them.

It’s horses for courses Tom. Your approach might suit you and others like you, but not the vast majority of journalists I deal with. The key to good media relations is understand your audience and tailor your approach to suit what they want.


About Stuart Bruce

International communications consultant and PR trainer specialising in online public affairs, digital corporate communications, online PR and social media; frequent national media commentator and conference speaker.
  • http://prstudies.typepad.com/weblog/2006/03/deconstructing_.html PR Studies

    Deconstructing news

    Tom Foremski makes a passionate plea for the press release (sic) to die. In place, he wishes the PR industry could adopt the principles of object-oriented programming by offering modular and reusable information for journalists to assemble into a news

  • http://www.hackingcough.com/blog Chris Edwards

    I thought of XPRL as a possibility here too, although I had forgotten what it was called up to now. I had a look at the site and the word "dormant" sprang to mind. Unlike XBRL, which has the SEC behind it to crack some heads together, I can't see XPRL ever getting off the ground. It needs practically everyone to understand it to make it worth developing software to process it. I guess if some of the tags could be gradually folded into regular XHTML formatted releases, it might get somewhere. But in that case, not having the entire content of the site designed to promulgate the standard might be a good start. It's difficult for anyone outside that little group to work out whether XPRL would fit Tom's requirements when you can't even look at the schema.

  • http://www.hackingcough.com/blog Chris Edwards

    I take it back about not being able to get the schema. It is downloadable – it is just the rest of the site that is protected.

  • http://profile.typekey.com/foremski/ Tom Foremski

    I'm not saying get rid of the press or news release, I'm saying lets have it in a format where it cuts down the work that is needed to turn it into a publishable news story. Most lack links and other online goodies and if you could deliver a package of factual information, easily sorted and in an online format it would be a better, more useable product. But you are welcome to keep doing things the old way too :-)

  • http://pr-squared.blogspot.com TDefren

    Hi Bruce – For the heck of it, we took a crack at what Tom's said he is looking for (feedback welcome!):

    http://pr-squared.blogspot.com/2006/03/is-this-press-release-of-tomorrow.html

  • http://leverwealth.blogspot.com David Phillips

    What happened to XPRL?

    Well it is still there and the basic schema is published.

    Now chaired by Mike Granatt at Luther Pendragon (http://www.luther.co.uk/), recent meeting (which I could not attend) put forward a stratgy for its further development.

    The PR people who would benefit most from the capability you suggest like PR Newswire, the big consultancies and Governement information agencies are now forced to use XML but are individually doing their own thing and have great difficulty in understanding/realising the benefits of XML or working with a global standard.

    They followed the route of NewsML which is now very active (the newsML2 yahoo newsgroup shows what is going on in that space) and XBRL, among others which usurped the PR industry (presumably the creator of content) for finacial reporting so now WPP, PRNewswire and COI and the like have to conform to at least two standards for their basic electonic communication.

    Pity, But its what one expects from technophobic ad and PR agencies.

    For the same reason they are now playing catchup in areas like media content analysis, blogging, Wiki's etc.

    But then I remember the blank faces at the IPR conference in 1995 when I said the web would be important.

    Only today, with the threat of communities that talk back and take control of thier messages through blogs are these people slowly realising that it is important.

    I would even bet that the PRCA/CIPR Internet Commission Report has not been read by more than three people on either Execitive Council!

  • http://leverwealth.blogspot.com David Phillips

    OK. I have prepared an XPRL (eXtensuble Public Relations Language) backgrounder because there is an XPRL meeting Thu, Sep 14 3pm Home House, 20 Portman Square, London W1 I have posted a backgrounder.

    What you should know is that I do not and cannot speak for XPRL, I hold no office and am no more privy to its workings than any other person.