Posted by: Ian Ross | March 1, 2008

Searching for the PR potential in RSS

How can the full potential of RSS be tapped in a public relations campaign? That is a question that I have been pondering over the past month without a satisfactory answer.

A few Toronto PR bloggers – including Dave Fleet and Ed Lee – have recently posted some great plain language explanations to help me better understand RSS. But I’m still at a loss about its strategic value.

Sure, it is good for bloggers to get updates out to their readers. And media relations professionals can use it in the faint hope that a reporter spots a posted press release while gathering potential story ideas.

But is that all RSS is good for?

Can it be used to get other PR and marketing materials out to target audiences? Who exactly is using RSS these day? Is there a high percentage of teens using RSS? Or individuals making over $100,000?

The honest answer is – I don’t have a clue. The best I can find online is an  interesting White Paper by Yahoo and Ipsos. Among other things, it states 12 per cent of the population knew about RSS and four per cent used it…. in 2005, a little outdated at this point. Everything else appears anecdotal and without any methodological support.

Yes, we should be reaching out to the early adopters. But in a busy work environment, how can a great deal of time and resources be assigned to a feed when the strategic value is unknown?

I will continue to ponder and play with ideas. But if anyone has any good research or thoughts on this matter, let me know.



  1. Hi Ian,

    If you do find any more research, let me know! I think it’s likely still a minority of people using it but I’d hope it’s a more sizeable minority by this point – three years is a long time in this world.



  2. After your comment over at my place, I’ve been searching for some research and have been having as much luck as you.

    however, in terms of PR potential, RSS could be as powerful as email. You’re having someone OPT-IN to receive more information about your product or service and, if you ask Seth Godin, that permission to interrupt your customer with new content is imperative in today’s “marketing as conversation” world. many of my clients point to email programmes they run as being the main drivers of traffic to their Web sites. RSS can perform the same function.

    sure, there’s no “strategic” value in having RSS other than as a tactic to the overarching goal of connecting organizations to their customers/stakeholders. which i guess is pretty important…


  3. You are right. It’s a nascent technology. Few use it and there is little business case for making it a major part of a campaign when PR budgets are stretched, and it’s already difficult to squeeze $$ out of tight fisted COOs.

  4. […] wants to know the strategic value of RSS and Mark wants to know how to leverage RSS from a marketing […]

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