A big-name British journalist and author recently said to me in an email:
Who or what is RSS? It sounds vaguely like the extreme Hindu nationalist party involved in the murder of Gandhi.
That kind of ignorance is about to be Nooked.
Fergus Burns, CEO of Nooked, came down to tBBC HQ yesterday to meet up with me during a flying visit from his base in Glasgow. If a company wants to generate RSS feeds from their website so that journalists can subscribe to them, Nooked has their webmaster insert a few lines of code (literally: two or four lines of code, depending on the job) into a page on the company’s website - this has to be done only once, and then Nooked can scrape the site and generate those RSS feeds. Nooked also hosts the feeds, so they can produce comprehensive stats and validation services for the company, too. (The good news for PR agencies: Nooked also does white label deals. For any PR company that wants to differentiate itself, especially in the tech realm, offering this as a value-added service would make a hell of a lot of sense.)
Journalists are increasingly begging for companies to put out RSS feeds and stop spamming them. Indeed, there are quotes aplenty from the likes of American journos like Dan Gillmor and John Udell on this subject. Here in the UK, uptake of RSS has been much slower. But we’ve had a few journalists attend our blogging bootcamps here in London who are using it, including Journalism.co.uk news editor Jemima Kiss, who told me:
I’m a big fan of RSS and seem to regularly send pestering emails to my favourite sites asking why they don’t have RSS feeds as well as email newsletters! I’ve unsubscribed to as many newsletters as I can. I get 500+ a day - about two-thirds of which are junk - and it’s such a waste of time. RSS is the single biggest thing for web publishers to get their heads around. And it’s so easy, there’s really no excuse not to do it.
With Microsoft adding RSS feed reading to its MyMSN homepages - looks like Yahoo opened the floodgates on that one by adding RSS headline reading to its MyYahoo hompages - maybe more companies will sit up and take notice of the fact that flooding journalists’ email inboxes does not an online PR and marketing strategy make. And once they realise that they’re bombarding their customers (or people they wish were their customers) with spam, too, and that perhaps pushing at these people isn’t the cleverest move to make, well, then we’ll be making some progress.