Here are 10 ideas for corporate RSS feeds to (mainly) external audiences. Most of these reasons are good ones for deploying RSS internally as well as part of your employee communications, knowledge management, content management, and other systems. [Cross-posted at Blogging Planet]
1) Email is an increasingly problematic communications tool due to the growth of spam and the overwhelming amount of email most businesspeople receive. More effective spam filters can also create a greater risk of missing important emails. Today, RSS offers a way for users to organize incoming information – on their terms (they have to actually subscribe to receive anything). While ads are increasingly entering RSS feeds, but they remain relatively free from spam at this point. Therefore, organizations should consider offering RSS feeds for many different information categories. Ideas follow!
2) RSS is perfect for the online press room. Added to your newsroom, RSS provides a great channel for delivering press releases to the journalists and analysts who are covering your company without clogging up their email inboxes. You can also use this channel to deliver information that might not be worthy of a press release, but which you deem could be interesting to press/analysts nonetheless. For example, you can post information about an upcoming show your company is exhibiting at and offer interviews.
Some companies using feeds successfully for their newsrooms include:
3) Keep your partners informed. Add an RSS feed to your extranet or partner area and keep it populated with press releases, announcements, product detail, meetings, etc. This works great for user groups as well. Organizations doing this include National Public Radio, which uses RSS feeds in its extranet for station owners/managers and Genesys Telecommunications Labs which offers RSS feeds for its user group.
4) Keep your customers informed. Journalists and analysts aren't the only people who will subscribe to your news release feed. Customers are very likely to as well. You should ask yourself what kind of information your customers want, besides news. One likely target is product support information. Product tuning, specs, troubleshooting and security updates are just a few of the topics that companies like IBM, Oracle, Microsoft and UserLand Software provide in their RSS feeds.
5) Provide specific informational categories so people can just receive what they are most interested in. Most companies deploying RSS today are using it in newsrooms and for product support. Some also offer feeds for overall website changes, for new articles or white papers. If you have multiple products or services, having a feed for each product might make sense.
6) Make your resource centers/online libraries dynamic! Use RSS to inform audiences of new case studies, white papers, and presentations. By providing a feed specific to your library, people don't have to visit the website to see what's new.
7) Put your events to work for you online. Create an RSS feed for each event you plan, as well as a general event feed that keeps your audiences up to date on where and when your organization will appear. Populate the feeds with executive schedules, photos, onsite reporting, and news. You can even produce an audio podcast with interviews from the show floor.
8) Capture and publish the buzz. By setting up an RSS feed that captures and publishes everything that is being said about your organization online, you can keep your audiences up to date on the buzz in an automated, easy-to-manage manner. This also provides a great way for your employees and executives to listen to what people are saying about your organization. Now, clearly, this type of automated feed will also capture negative commentary as well, and may not be for everyone (do a manual feed in that case). But in the growing spirit of communications transparency, it might be a great way for your organization to acknowledge issues and address them publicly. You can easily capture feeds from Feedster, PubSub, or Technorati about your organization and make them available to internal and external audiences. Or, hire a company like Intelliseek to do buzz tracking for you.
9) Set up a feed for special promotions. Provide limited-time only product discounts, early-bird specials to events, prizes and more to key customer sets.
10) You can just as easily create private (password-protected) RSS feeds as public ones. These can be a great way to keep employees, partners, customers informed of company happenings, events, promotions, office closings, and other information you don't necessarily want widely available. You can use a feed for a final press release distribution 24 hours before it hits the wire, for example. [Update: This would be for internal audiences for final approval and/or executive knowledge, not to external audiences. You don't want to run afoul of SEC laws. Thanks to Bill French for pointing out this needed to be clarified.] Many content management and knowledge management software vendors are planning on adding RSS to their product suites in the near future.