Although company blogs have become a news channel in their own right, they are not a substitute for a press release.
Press releases are written for the press, providing the basic information about a company news announcement for journalists to develop into a story, written in a style that will be of interest to the readership of the publication. The reality is that few company pronouncements are actually that newsworthy to prompt a journalist, or in the case of many trade journals, the editor, to call up and get more information. Some editors in the industrial sector now seem to edit more than one title and the only other staffers are not journalists, but advertising salesmen selling traditional display and classified space, but also editorial space. Not all publications do this, the better quality titles keep editorial decisions away from advertising influence. What tends to happen is that the press release, if the word count is within the required range, may be re-titled, or edited for length, but otherwise published as received.
Before blogs came the news aggregator web sites that unlike the print based titles who published perhaps as little as 1 in 20 press releases received, published everything. Some industry specific news aggregators may take a swift editorial review to tidy up copy, but some others are happy to publish news just as it comes in. The news aggregating sites were of interest to companies on several counts. Not only was their investment in PR rewarded by publication rather than rejection into the editorial trash can, but the sites did well on search results and links helped company web site ranking and to attract visitors. In short they had SEO value. The company blog was the next step, with the PR content published there too. But all this may actually now be working against high rankings as this recent article explains, "Why your press releases are getting you penalised." As more and more company web sites have turned to standard development packages and CMS -- the wide landscape rotating image set at the top being a common distinguishing feature - there is often a "news" module in the kit. This is more of a blog module than a press resource, which in turn raises the question of what resources is the press looking for?
Research conducted some 10 years or more ago indicated even then 90% of journalists researching a company turn first of all to the company web site to discover what the business says about itself. A background document that explains the company's business, introduces the important company officers, gives financials, brief history and key performance data, helps set the scene and save journalists a lot of time. What else might they expect to find there? Well current press releases with downloadable and captioned high resolution images and contact details for the press officer or PR agency. Perhaps too, searchable news archives to quickly find reference to related stories that help build up the full picture and how about an image library with hi-res and web ready images. For the company press officer other features would be great, such as automatic creation of an html press release ready to email out, news feeds such as RSS and news tickers that can be put on the home page, or other web sites and linking to the full story. The Virtual News Office offers all these features as a service to busy marketing and PR professionals - it does a lot more than a blog!