I subscribe to a lot of RSS feeds. Too many, really, so there's a constant tension between the desire to read everything and the reality of finite time. Still, feeds offer a big efficiency gain over other methods of tracking events. So last week I spent some time looking for PR feeds on company web sites (not blogs), with mixed results. A lot of companies still need to work on putting the RSS in their PR.
To keep things in perspective, note that all of the companies I checked are in social media businesses. We're not talking about companies who haven't heard of RSS. This is what I found:
- Working feed
You're in the game. Thank you.
- No feed at all
Feeds make it so much easier to follow your news. You want people to see your releases, don't you? Oh, well, at least there's Page2RSS.
- Feed with no content
The RSS icon is a head fake. Nobody's home.
- Live feed that doesn't match web page
Click, subscribe, and—wait, something's wrong here. If your feed is obsolete, subscribers won't find out unless they go back to your site, which defeats the purpose of subscribing to the feed. New subscribers may not notice the disconnect as they subscribe.
Easy steps for RSS hygiene
- If you have a web page with company news or press releases, give it an RSS feed. If you want to get fancy, set up separate feeds for press releases, press coverage and white papers. Yes, this requires some technical work behind the scenes—it's worth it.
- Use FeedBurner for its insights into feed subscribers. Remember to configure the autodiscovery code to point to the FeedBurner version of your feed.
- Subscribe to your own feed. Check to confirm that the content of the feed matches the page. Notice if items in your feed keep showing up as unread, so you can fix things.
- If your feed moves, try to make the old address continue to work (easy with FeedBurner). Otherwise, post an address change message for subscribers to the old feed. The address change should always be the newest item on an obsolete feed.