Recently HubSpot made some news in social media circles with their acquisition of the Twitter boutique firm oneforty. They attracted attention to this acquisition in a very clever way — via a press release consisting of 13 distinct tweets.
Kudos to them for the creativity. It no doubt helped them secure placements in the Wall Street Journal Venture blog and TechCrunch, and put hundreds of readers to work increasing the distribution of the news. So far, so good.
But the Tech and Socmed worlds love the latest thing, so some went a step further and wondered whether this was more than a creative idea. Could this a new form of the much maligned, left for dead press release? A much more effective way to disseminate information in a new age, much like the hype surrounding the social media press release template a few years back? Lynn Miller of 4GreenPs asks that question in a good blog post here.
I’ve considered the question of press release effectiveness for a long time — here’s an article I did for MarketingProfs back in 2007. To summarize what I said then, many miss the fact that there are many reasons to put out a release besides trying to garner media coverage. Companies do it to satisfy full disclosure requirements, demonstrate market momentum, recruit new talent and to create site content.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m no defender of bland, cookie-cutter releases that contain no useful information. But that’s a problem of execution, not the format or the tactic. We don’t blame the hammer when we hit our own thumb, right? (Maybe we do, but you get the analogy.)
But beyond that, the reasons this format will never become widespread are contained in the comment thread on HubSpot’s site. Bottom line, this format is inconvenient for both the reader and the journalist. As one reader commented:
Congrats on the acquisition, making a valuable resource even stronger. But the @Hubspot and “Tweet This” interruptions in and after every statement puts a strain on the reader to easily catch the flow of the overall piece. Conflicting priorities in play. Surely, you’ll refine all this . . . right?
As a busy journalist working for an online publication, I found the format really irritating. As Andrew Fingerman says, couldn’t it have contained a link to a straightforward release? Most of us just don’t have the time needed to unravel unnecessary gimmicks.
I don’t think anyone at HubSpot thought they were recreating the press release when they used this format. They simply had a cool idea and ran with it. Good for them. Creativity is the coin of the realm in professional services and if you’re not bringing it to the table you’re an order taker, not a counselor.
One final point that suggests this was a clever tactic, not a release format remake. As Lynn points out in her post, HubSpot didn’t rely solely on social media for distribution — they also put this out over PRNewswire.
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