[uf-discuss] Revisiting a press release microformat

Todd Van Hoosear tvanhoosear at topazpartners.com
Thu Jun 22 12:34:16 PDT 2006

I read with interest the thread back in January regarding a press
release microformat
002701.html). The consensus at the time was that hAtom
(http://microformats.org/wiki/hatom) was sufficient. 
I'd like to revisit this subject, and add the perspective of a public
relations professional. 
I was very pleased to see news releases being considered for a specific
microformat. I would argue that we're in dire need of a news release
microformat that makes it easier for journalists and other interested
parties to sift through the hundreds of press releases that cross the
wires ever hour. 
After looking at the hAtom format, I would argue that it doesn't suit
the needs of journalists sufficiently.
I would propose bringing in some PR agency folks, journalists, business
wire specialists and corporate communications people to discuss what
could be included in such a format. 
This is a VERY hot and relevant topic in the public relations and
journalism field. Cries of "the press release is dead" circulate nearly
daily in the blogosphere (e.g.,
One solution recently proposed--called the "social media press
release"--has been to physically restructure what the press release
looks like. The result is this:
http://www.shiftcomm.com/downloads/smprtemplate.pdf. This gives you a
good sense of what the schema would have to look like--I think it's
definitely more than what you can get from hAtom. 
Now this approach requires actual physical changes to what the press
release looks like. It is my contention that trying to get companies and
PR people to make a dramatic change to the look and feel of something
that has remained relatively unchanged for more than 30 years is a bit
much to ask. I contend that "marking up" the standard press release with
the appropriate microformat tags allows the look of a press release to
remain the same, but the functionality to increase dramatically. It
would accomplish the same end that the social media release is trying to
achieve, but would allow the press release--I prefer "news release"
because these days, they're written more for investors than media--to
continue to look and feel the same. Furthermore, it would have the
benefit of a standard, and information could be better controlled and
acted upon.
There are other fields that are missed by the social media press
release, and of course by regular press releases. For example, look at
the fields required to file an AP story, which include designations for
the kind of story (flash, spot, standing feature, financial news, sports
news, urgent, domestic, international, etc.) Some of these things are
done by the wire services, others aren't, but there's not a common
standard for any of them as far as I know.
I would be interested in your feedback and suggestions for next steps.
Thank you,
Todd Van Hoosear <tvanhoosear at topazpartners.com>
Topaz Partners <http://topazpartners.blogspot.com
<http://topazpartners.blogspot.com/> >
18 Commerce Way, Suite 7000, Woburn, MA 01801 - USA
D: +1-781-404-2409 - M: +1-617-233-0437 - F: +1-781-935-0589

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