Technical Marketing
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Talking about news publication

David Brooks  10.08.2016

Before Internet, news publication in the b-2-b sector was relatively simple.

Basically to get news published you sent your news by way of press releases to the editors of the relevant trade press and hoped. Sometimes you could 'pitch' a story to the editor and be commissioned to write an article and even, many years ago for the author to be paid. For the smaller stories you hoped yours would be selected for publication - most press releases went straight to the trash can.  A figure of 1 in 20 [published to binned] was quoted as typical. So you hoped your press release would be the fortunate 1 out of 20. Then a couple of things gradually started to happen that changed things. Most b-2-b publications a few decades ago were monthly magazines, a few might have been sold by subscription but by and large it was display and classified advertising that paid for them. And the advertisers were often the same people that sent in the press releases. Colour print was not yet common in  b-2-b publications. A colour section was bound in  to the journal which was otherwise mainly black and white. There was obviously more appeal to place advertising in the colour pages of the publication. Likewise  a news item and photograph in colour were deemed more effective. This opened up a new revenue stream for the publisher. At the time colour print was significantly more expensive than black and white and one additional cost was the production of films for printing colour, which were known as 'colour separation's. The publishers would run your press release on one of the colour pages, but there would be a modest charge for the 'cost' of the separations. The once claimed editorial independence from the financial clout of the advertiser was breached. Now you could buy space one way or another. Advertorials - typically using the magazine's house style but containing apparently 'independently' written copy and therefore more authoritative - allowed the big advertisers to dominate the media. So before heading for the trash can, the press releases rejected by the editor would pass to a salesmen who would sell the space usually using the "colour separation' approach. When advertising sales slumped in difficult times the sales boys  were on the phone selling 'colour seps'- a term that outlived the actual process for colour print as b and w and colour prices balanced out and new generations of 'colour sep' salesmen, when challenged exhibited scant knowledge of what the charge was actually for.

With the Internet the advantage swung more in favour of the advertisers. Now all their news could be published - at least on their own website  -  giving a far more favourable return for the efforts put into writing the press release. Then along comes social media and another set of publication channels. All this opportunity to publish news brought with it its own problems. For example what is really news, news that customers or prospects would choose to read, because it is informative or interesting and what is common place?  Actually filling all these channels with interesting and informative content is another matter. Well here's another problem - the 'news feeds' on social media and Facebook's Instant Articles platform for example has kind of turned the tables a bit where the channel becomes the publisher and the initiative again shifts away from  the advertiser or news creator. Facebook, can and is changing the algorithm. An article titled, 'Why Facebook isn't working for publishers' takes a look at the developing situation.

Although the technology has been around for years, few company web sites have used RSS as a news feed. It was and remains an iinteresting option, one we look at in the next blog.

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