Wednesday, September 27, 2006

TV 8 Adds News Releases Online

In a never ending effort to make TV and the Internet relevant to each other, local NBC affiliate TV 8 has added news releases to its Web site. That excited me at first, until I had several thoughts.

One, the news releases are simply a feed from PR Newswire, which anyone can get online by themselves. In fact, the Grand Rapids Press and Booth Newspapers have had links to PR Newswire and BusinessWire on their Mlive site for years, under the business link. It would be more exciting for TV 8 to offer some original content, such as links to the news releases of local companies and organizations. They could allow people to see the stories they don't have time to broadcast--a good supplemental use of the Web site. They could also share the news releases about stories they did cover and allow the public to compare--and even on occasion conclude that PR pros are better writers.

At least TV 8 has news releases. Local counterparts TV 13 and TV 17 do not have them on their sites yet. TV 13 has weather features front and center, and TV 17 promotes FOX network programming.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

BE Healthy Offers Opportunity

The Grand Rapids Press premiers a new publication today called "BE Healthy." The glossy mag insert is reflective of several trends.

One, it shows an uptick in consumer interest about all things related to health. Two, it shows a response of the Press to an unhealthy environment for newspapers. Newspapers are struggling to attract and keep readers and are engaging in all manner of re-packaging, re-purposing, and re-posting information. Thus, the BE Healthy may not only be the title of this publication, but the directive from the publisher to the accounting staff at the Press. That's why the piece comes from the Press Marketing Department, as opposed to the news department. Hence the name "market-driven" journalism.

Not that there's anything wrong with that. The piece is well done, and includes information that has what academics would call "utility" for consumers. It also presents an opportunity for health communicators as a targeted ad vehicle and an outlet for health related news pitches.

Let's hope we all consider this a healthy addition to the Sunday Press even a few months after we've digested it.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Allticor Responds

Rob Zeiger, Alticor Corporate Communications Director, responded to my query about why their blog is signed obtusely by "corporate communications":

"The short answer for why we don't use personal IDs on the blog: We want to preserve the editorial "we." Most blogs are like columns, speaking for an individual; we have the need to come across like an editorial, speaking for the corporation. Having our posts parsed for personality (and personal politics, which do differ) would be both a distraction and a fishing expedition, since nearly everything we post is a consensus, not just a sound-off."

Alticor Separates Company from Campaign

There has been a lot of interesting coverage of how Alticor is handling the fact that one of their leaders, Dick DeVos, is in a political campaign. Even more interesting is how Alticor is handling it, with a new series of ads and frank discussion on their company blog.

The ads and the blog are good for showing and stressing the bi-partisan face of the company. The media coverage has been good in the sense that they are getting the facts straight, allowing Alticor to respond to critics from the Granholm campaign. The campaign is part of another episode in the emerging debate affecting the PR profession: the distinction between "commercial speech" vs "political speech" (ie Nike V Kasky).

So far, Alticor seems to have a handle on separating politics from business. Too bad so many politicians in the state do not.

I only wish that in this otherwise excellent example of corporate transparency, Alticor's bloggers would show their faces. Posts are signed by "corporate communications." Blogs are supposed to be about personal, mutual dialogue. They say the blog is written by democrats and republicans. Great. I'd like to know who I'm talking to as opposed to having an image of that imposing, flag bedecked building in Ada.