Saturday, November 01, 2008

The Changing Face of the Press Release

According to the Executive Summary of a study conducted by Fellows of the Society for New Communications Research and made possible by Vocus, the advent of new online communication channels, the goals, target audiences, and overall scope of press releases have transformed press releases themselves into a new communication tool used by public relations and marketing professionals alike.

The respondents' top goals for online press releases indicated that the traditional goals of increasing an organization's visibility and credibility and announcing news are now almost equally as important as new goals that include reaching customers directly, creating online content, and search engine optimization (SEO).

While PR professionals placed more importance on traditional goals such as announcing news and enhancing thought leadership, marketing professionals reported SEO and reaching consumers as important goals for their online press releases. Small business owners were concerned with using the release as a sales tool and reaching customers directly.

Both traditional media and new media emerged as the top two most important audiences respondents hoped to reach with their online press releases. Bloggers and new media followed traditional media in importance, but were a very close second, separated by only 0.28 points on a 1-5 scale.

In terms of target audiences for online press releases, significant differences emerged between marketing and public relations professionals. Although both marketing and public relations professionals reported more than average importance for reaching traditional media, consumers, and webmasters that will repurpose the release, PR professionals were consistently more interested than marketing professionals in reaching traditional media.

Marketing professionals were consistently more interested than PR practitioners in reaching new media or consumers directly. For example:

  • PR professionals rated the importance of reaching traditional media an average 4.53 on a 1-5 scale, which is significantly higher than marketing professionals' rating of 3.82
    Similarly, marketing professionals rated the importance of reaching webmasters with an average 3.49 on a 1-5 scale, which is significantly higher than PR practitioners' rating of only 2.83
  • These results indicate that online press releases have been adopted as a communications tool by the marketing profession, says the report, but are being used very differently than they have traditionally been used by public relations professionals.

The most frequently mentioned criterion for evaluating the success of online press releases was:

  • The number of times the release has been republished on websites (79.6 percent)
  • The number of times the release has been viewed online (76.8 percent)
  • An article based on the release (75.4 percent)
  • Media interview requests as a result of the release (74.2 percent)

Interestingly, although marketing and public relations professionals seem to use online press releases differently, there were no statistically significant differences between the two in terms of the criteria they use for evaluating success. In fact, the evaluation criteria were homogenous across different size organizations and industry sectors as well. The only statistically significant difference identified young communication practitioners (under 30 years of age) as more interested than the other age groups in obtaining coverage on blogs and social media sites.

Open-ended responses to a different survey question indicate that higher level indicators such as "eyeballs" and "dollar value" are desired evaluation criteria of online press releases, but communication professionals do not know how to measure them, concludes the study.

Very few respondents indicated using social media release formats (26.3 percent) and even fewer reported adding video (12.8 percent) or audio (9 percent) enhancements. Of all multimedia elements, photos were the most popular, used in online press releases by 49.5 percent of respondents. Even more puzzling is that less than half of respondents (48.8 percent) link to their own press releases after they have been posted online.

The most frequently mentioned challenges of online press releases, grouped into categories according to the main themes, were:

  • Cutting through the clutter. This challenge speaks to the difficulty of getting a press release noticed in an information-rich environment.
  • Targeting and distribution. Respondents often find it difficult to identify and target the specific audience for their press releases.
  • Measurement. Accurate evaluation of online press release results to include not only message distribution and exposure, but also evidence of audience receipt and behavior change was another perceived challenge.
Please visit here to retrieve the complete PDF Whitepaper release.

Survey Reveals Surging U.S. Mobile Adoption and How Mobile Users are Spending Their Time

Prosumers and Young Professionals Lead the Way as Power Mobile Users and Early Adopters of Advanced Content and Social Networking Services

ACTON, Mass. – Azuki Systems, Inc., an innovator in the interactive mobile media technology market, today announced the results of its first annual U.S. mobile phone user survey (download report) to profile trends and emerging behavior. Over 54% of those surveyed said their mobile phone usage had increased by more than 25% over the last two years, and one in five respondents said it had increased by more than 50%. A significant catalyst behind this growth is smart phone adoption, with 62% of respondents indicating they either own or will own such a device in the next 12 months.

Despite increased adoption, almost 80% of those surveyed said they wished it were easier to access information from the Internet on their mobile phones, and an equal percentage stated they wished it were easier to access rich media on their mobile phones. The majority of those surveyed pointed to a number of current obstacles to enjoying rich media on mobile. For example, 69% felt that the long time to download and/or play media ranked among their top three barriers, and 66% felt that difficulties finding and navigating to relevant content was a top three inhibitor. A number of shortcomings were also identified for iPhone and BlackBerry users.
“Mobile device technology, as well as mobile content and application development, is on the rise.

As a result, the mobile experience is getting better with access to more content, and mobile adoption is growing at a rapid speed,” said Jim Ricotta, CEO of Azuki Systems. “However, as the survey results indicated, there is still work to be done in order to deliver truly usable mobile content to today’s mobile devices. Mobile requires a different consumption and interaction model where, unlike the desktop, it is less about browsing and more about glancing to ‘snack’ on media.”

Mobile Users – Where Does the Time Go? Regardless of which mobile device they are using, U.S. mobile phone users are spending a significant amount of time on their phones. This highlights the fact that core consumer services have expanded beyond voice to include messaging and data services, which also serve as a launch pad for broader Web and more advanced content services. Survey findings showed:

  1. Gabfest: 33% talk on their mobile phones more than 10 hours per week. The youngest generation is spending even more time, with 34% of those 17 and younger talking for more than 15 hours/week.
  2. OMG: Of the 79% who send text messages from their phones, 29% do so for more than two hours/week. Again, the younger generations prove to be power users, with 37% of those less than the age of 22 texting for more than two hours/week. With only a gradual drop-off in text messaging for 23 to 44 year-olds, a generational gap is evident with a sharp decline to almost no usage for those approaching age 60 and older.
  3. Hooked on e-mail: 50% access their e-mails from their mobile phones, with nearly 30% of those between the ages of 35 and 44 doing so for more than two hours per week.
  4. Going surfing: 52% access the Web via their mobile phones, and 35 to 44 year-olds are leveraging this technology the most, with 60% spending time each week surfing the Web. Perhaps fueling a significant portion of this growth was iPhone adoption, which according to the survey results appeared strongest among 23 to 44 year-olds. In addition, there was clear evidence of 23 to 34 year-olds trading up their feature phones for smart phones as they move into the corporate world.
  5. TV time:25% access video on their mobile phones, with 88% of this group spending less than two hours/week, which may indicate a growing appetite for rich media with shorter duration viewing patterns.
Socialization & Monetization Survey results show that the social networking craze is starting to heat up on the third screen as well. Twenty-five percent of mobile users are accessing social networking sites from their mobile devices with one in seven respondents between the ages of 23 to 34 doing so for more than two hours/week. Sixty-four percent of those surveyed reported that they would share content via their mobile phone with their contacts from social networking sites if it were easier to do so.

The survey results also proved good news for mobile advertisers. Almost 70% of mobile users surveyed would prefer mobile ads in exchange for free access to mobile content. Additionally, if their mobile phones had location tracking capabilities that would present them with promotions for local businesses, more than 65% would take advantage of this opportunity.

The survey was conducted with over 275 U.S. mobile consumers of varying demographic backgrounds.

About Azuki Systems Azuki Systems provides the industry’s first comprehensive interactive mobile media services platform. Azuki enables content publishers and mobile operators to create, differentiate and monetize rich media services for mobile audiences. The Azuki platform provides everything needed to establish new revenue streams through the delivery of highly interactive and personalized mobile-content and social-networking services. Based in Acton, Mass., Azuki is led by an executive team that has built some of the communications industry’s most successful companies, including ArrowPoint, SightPath, Arris Networks, Acopia Networks and DataPower. For additional information, please visit or call +1-978-844-5100.