Occasionally on the web, I will run across a company blog that isn’t really a blog—it’s simply an archive of the company’s press releases. While it’s important for a company to publish press releases on its website at the same time it releases them to the world, the company blog should not be used as a press release archive. (They should be included in a different section of the website called, “Press Releases.”) Having a clear point of view on the difference between press releases and blog posts can help you communicate more precisely the topic of the message and for whom the message is intended.

How Press Releases and Blog Posts Are Different

  • Press releases are issued by an institution. Blog posts are messages from individuals.
  • Press releases are written in a unique third-person style in which the organization writes about itself: “Bob Dole Inc. today announced the launch of a new product.” Blog Posts are written in the first person: “I’m happy to announce that we launched a new product today. Here’s why.”
  • Press releases aren’t written for the end reader, but for an intermediary: a reporter, analyst, government regulator, curator or influencer. Blog posts are written for customers, members and supporters.
  • Press releases carry dozens of quotes, but don’t have a voice. Blog posts rarely use quotations, but every sentence is quotable in the voice of the person who wrote it.

Why You Need Both Press Releases and Blog Posts

While my comparison of posts and releases might suggest I’m not a big fan of press releases, that’s not the case. As I noted, press releases serve a specific function in communicating official messages. (Although in 2013 the Securities and Exchange Commission in the U.S. began to accommodate official corporate announcements made by publicly traded companies using social media, even a tweet.)

But in an era when authenticity and transparency are expected by customers, institutional-ish messaging perhaps doesn’t work. Instead of an “official” press release that sounds like a legal department wrote it, large companies are choosing to use blog posts.

Here’s an example: Last year, when LinkedIn discovered millions of usernames and passwords from a four-year-old criminal hack were being sold online, it didn’t issue an institutional press release with quotes from the CEO. Instead, the company’s chief information security officer posted an in-depth explanation of what the company was doing to address the problem—all written in language anyone could understand. And then, over the course of the next few days, the post was updated to keep users aware of the company’s progress.

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This article by SmallBusiness.com founder Rex Hammock first appeared in the Idea Email, a newsletter distributed every other week by the content and media company, Hammock.

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