Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Is This "The Press Release Of Tomorrow?"

Okay, Tom, how is this for the press release of tomorrow?

Per Tom Foremski's rant ("Die, Press Releases, Die! Die!") about what we agree is an outmoded communications vehicle, the SHIFT team reformatted a press release that had been sent out earlier this month, "Foremski-style."

Tom had asked for lots of links, news-without-spin, photos, financial data, tags to other stories, executive and analyst quotes, etc.

Note that we could have provided more of each of these elements, but in this case were restricted to what'd already been approved for this early-Feb press release.

...But, then again, using the "More information available by request" device builds-in opportunities for agencies to add further value by offering up exclusive content, client interviews, etc. This might not suit Mr. Foremski - he seemed to want everything bound up in a hermetically-sealed package - but, the PR agency cannot abdicate all opportunities to add value to the mainstream media.

Feedback welcome (from everybody)!

And, p.s. - part 3 of the "Bad Advice About Customer References" series will be posted tomorrow.


Feb. 6, 2006: UGOBE launches first product at DEMO 2006

Contact:
Todd Defren, SHIFT Communications, 617-681-1253

Description:
UGOBE, a new company started by Furby co-creator Caleb Chung, today revealed its first product, Pleo. Pleo is modeled after a one-week-old Camarasaurus Sauropod, or long neck dinosaur, and has been specifically engineered to mimic life with organic movement and behaviors. UGOBE’s patented robotic technology enables Pleo to move in a fluid, lifelike way, behave autonomously, convey emotions through motion and sound, and evolve in behavior over time. Pleo will be available in Q3 2006 and will MSRP for $199.

Executive Quote (more available by request):
“UGOBE’s goal is to re-animate life by transforming inanimate objects into lifelike creatures exhibiting organic movement and behaviors. Through evolving companionship, Pleo will suspend disbelief by bringing magic and beauty to life.” – Bob Christopher, CEO, UGOBE

Analyst Quote (more available by request):
“With this flagship product, UGOBE has shown that they are a forward-thinking company that sees the shift within the industry toward interactive organic robotics.” – Tim Bajarin, president, Creative Strategies

Financial Information:

  • Private company
  • Venture capital backed
  • Series A funding: $2.5 million
  • Series B funding: Plans to raise $5 million
  • Investors Include:
    • Band of Angels
    • FMG, headed by Chauncey Shey, president and CEO, Softbank China Holding (SBCH); CEO, Softbank China Venture Capital (SBCVC); and co-founder and director, UTStarcom, Inc (NASDA: UTSI).

Photos (more available by request):

Videos:

Relevant Coverage To-Date:

Boilerplate:
UGOBE develops and markets revolutionary robotic technology that transforms inanimate objects into lifelike creatures that exhibit stunning organic movement and dynamic behaviors. Ugobe’s multidisciplinary team of robotics experts, animators, technologists, scientists, biologists and programmers are led by polymath toy inventor and Furby co-creator, Caleb Chung, one of the most successful and respected toy creators in the $25 billion U.S. toy industry. UGOBE’s groundbreaking line of robotic creatures called Life Forms, promise to inspire and entertain the child in all of us. For more information about UGOBE, visit www.ugobe.com.


UPDATE: Well, Tom seems to like it, anyway.

17 Comments:

Blogger Michael Morton said...

I agree that press releases could use a minor overhaul. I especially agree that links need to be implemented into modern releases. But we should still write releases with the media being the primary audience.

Some people argue that press releases need to be written with consumers in mind, not neccessarily the media. I strongly disagree with them. Interestingly, I just posted about this on my blog Constituency Communication. You can read it here.

March 01, 2006  
Blogger Michael Morton said...

I agree that press releases could use a minor overhaul. I especially agree that links need to be implemented into modern releases. But we should still write releases with the media being the primary audience.

Some people argue that press releases need to be written with consumers in mind, not neccessarily the media. I strongly disagree with them. Interestingly, I just posted about this on my blog Constituency Communication. You can read it here.

March 01, 2006  
Blogger Kami Huyse, APR said...

Instead of "more available by request," why not remove the gatekeeper and give a link to "more" in an online press room, with plenty of easy-to-downoload art and so on...

March 01, 2006  
Blogger PR-Guy said...

Michael - I think Foremski's opinion is that today's press releases are NOT palatable to the media; they have become victims of their own success and are now stale; bereft of value.

Kami - Great idea, thx for the feedback...but having said that I do still like the idea of the agency playing gatekeeper with SOME of the content. Some top journalists are going to want exclusive photos, info, interviews vs. making it an equal playing field where all content is available to all comers. Just one PR Guy's opinion...

March 01, 2006  
Blogger Jeremy said...

Instead of that short pitch and information that reporters want, we can send them a small novel with attachments. Yep, that's the way to go.

March 01, 2006  
Blogger PR-Guy said...

Hi Jeremy - Your much-admired snarkiness aside, thanks for the feedback ... but, ummm, I think you missed the point. This effort was intended as a thought-piece on how to replace PRESS RELEASES, not PITCHES.

In other words: once the quick, concise, targeted & customized pitch piqued a reporters interest, THAT'S when this document would be sent - in lieu of the traditional press release.

Also, this "press release of the future" was complied at the request of a respected journalist, eh? It was a journalist, not a PR pro, who suggested that our press releases ought to "die, die, die!"

Isn't catering to the media's desires a big part of our industry's responsibility? This is one attempt.

Either way, thanks for checkin' in, and 'gratz on the new gig with Weber-Shandwick. Happy to grab a cup o' joe with you next time I am in SF - there's a Starbucks or two there, I think. ;)

March 01, 2006  
Blogger Dave Jones said...

Loved the post. And man, I admire Jeremy's snarkiness too.

I can't find trackbacks on your site. Is that a Blogger thing?

March 01, 2006  
Blogger PR-Guy said...

Thanks, Dave! (And yea, it is a Blogger thing. Thinking seriously about moving the site to a more robust platform!) I appreciate the kind words...

March 01, 2006  
Blogger Michael said...

Todd,
As you alluded to, media relations is about giving the media what they want from the companies we represent. Rather, not all the information they want (competitor info., etc.), but information that is accurate and honest.

The second part is giving it to them in the format they prefer.

Tom has his preferences. Other still very much respected journalists have their preferences. It's tough to please everyone. And, it seems Tom has been scarred by some pretty bad news releases.

It seems a lot of this discussion tries to blanket news releases in one category. Publicly-trade companies do have requirements. B2B companies have other needs. Small, regional and local companies have their needs.

And, for the three examples I cited above, their targeted media have different needs.

Tom, for the most part, is wrong.
Good discussion, Todd.
Take care,
Mike
Mike's Points

March 02, 2006  
Blogger Ike said...

"The 'Intelligent Design' crowd was right! Man is co-existing with dinosaurs!"

Nice stab, but as a former journalist, I'm not feeling the impact. Maybe something about how this will change the way we think about modeling the past, or the influence it could have on education.

Instead, I'm left with the feeling that this is nothing more than a toy dinosaur with batteries up its butt.

The format isn't fixing this message. It's all about the content.

March 02, 2006  
Blogger PR-Guy said...

Hey now, Ike, go easy on a defenseless dinosaur. He might need batteries, but I need coffee to get me started...

I think what I do like about this "Foremski-style" release is the links to relevant content. For example, note the old WIRED article link to Caleb Chung's name: That's not the kind of thing you'd ordinarily see in a press release, yet, this format breaks down some of the old barriers and allows us to provide context, even if that context comes from different (and I daresay "dated") editorial outlets.

That, to me, represents some compelling new content options.

Thanks for the feedback!

March 02, 2006  
Blogger SB said...

I'm really confused as to why everyone keeps waiting for the next pronouncement from Tom Foremski and then writes about it -- as if it were Steve Jobs releasing a hologram version of the iPod.

I'm guilty, too. I wrote about the damn guy and I don't even know him -- beyond knowing that he wouldn't really understand PR if it were a 2-by-4 right between the eyes.

Sounds to me like Tom has succeeded in spinning the spinners -- the ultimate Jedi mind...trick and PR gambit to draw attention to himself.

Congratulations, Tom.

March 02, 2006  
Blogger PR-Guy said...

Hiya Scott -

You are totally right, of course, and I think Tom looooves tweaking us to watch us chase our tails.

Having said that, I give the bastard credit for keeping us on our toes. And giving us something to write about!

And, despite the mostly-negative feedback we've received from fellow PR folks, I do kinda' like the "new" press release format. I am already on-record suggesting that Ye Olde Press Release is getting creaky... I think something *like this* (likely not exactly like it) could work...someday.

This style offers up less spin, more industry-wide context (via links), more opportunities for agency:journalist dialogue. Just my .02 though.

p.s. Thx for the Orchard Pick, and for any and all references to the Jedi Order! ;)

March 02, 2006  
Blogger Kami Huyse, APR said...

I am into giving my media contacts whatever they need, in whatever format. But new formats don't address the problem of bad apples. Whatever the format, I suspect it will be abused.

I was at a luncheon today with a local reporter and so I had to ask him what he felt about press releases.

He said: "As long as all of the information is there and accurate, I don't care how it is sent."

I think most journalists feel this way. For those that run a press release (cut and paste) there will always be the press release.

March 02, 2006  
Blogger PR-Guy said...

This calls to mind a favorite expression, Kami:

"Somewhere in the middle lies the truth."

I see 3 facts impacting this debate:

Fact #1 is that there are a lot of B-A-D press releases out there - poorly written and with hardly any genuine news value. This impacts our credibility as an industry.

Fact #2 is that the growing ubiquity of the broadband Web, combined with ever-easier-to-use online tools and, valid, user-generated content (via blogs) are converging to create a unique oppty to re-think what we do and how we do it. (Check my "best-of" post on the "Internet's Future" for some addtl ideas.)

Fact #3 is: change is slow. Unlike Tom F., most folks want evolution, not revolution. Which leads me to think a "hybrid" model will emerge...

Thanks again for the input!

March 02, 2006  
Blogger Ike said...

I'll go you one better.

I sent out a release today that was formatted three different ways:

#1 - paper release for fax, everything there
#2 - release by e-mail, relevant info clickable by link, including a link to #3
#3 - release to media blog, formatted in plain text for RSS compatibility

Yes, some people got more than one version. I'm sure some got three. But whichever one they happen to pick up will be in the form most useful at that moment.

The medium might be the message, but you're silly not to make your message fit the medium.

Ike
Accentuate the Positive, 2.0

March 02, 2006  
Blogger PR-Guy said...

Ike, I'd love to see those 3 versions. Obviously I'd lke to post/comment on them here, but even if that's not cool with you I'd be curious.

March 02, 2006  

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