PRNewswire RSS: close, but the cigar is still in the humidor

26 September 2005

Last week, PRNewswire for Journalists (PRNJ) finally got around to coming up with RSS feeds that lets journalists pick subjects they are interested in rather than have to chew on the entire output of the press-release outlet. That's good. It is, apparently, something that the company has been mulling for some time and was pipped to the post by Businesswire earlier in the summer. So intense was the private mulling been that simply to say that Businesswire had the advantage of time is heresy in some quarters (check the comments).

Now for the bad news. Unlike Businesswire, which custom cooks you a feed based on the preferences you use for the longstanding email bulletins, PRNJ has taken the approach of providing feeds based on each of the industries and topics that PRs select when they post releases. This does not sound too bad at first: you simply subscribe to all the feeds you need and let the aggregator deal with it. The problem is, many things do not fit neatly into one category and many people tick more than one industry or category for their news. If you are like me, and only want the electronics-related segments within the Technology industry category, you are liable to get a lot of dupes popping up in NetNewsWire or whatever you use as an aggregator. It's not a showstopper, but it is an irritation.

PRNJ's categories make more sense than those used by BW. So, if they could come up with a personalised feed akin to that used for the email bulletins, I'd be a lot more impressed with the PRNJ take on RSS for hacks.