Social Media Press Release – the press release of the future

Social media is something that is becoming more and more important to people in communications and public relations. In these professions, our job is to maintain communication between our organization and its audience, whether external or internal.

We’ve all heard a lot about social media, but what exactly is it? According to Bigmouthmedia, social media incorporates online technology that allows people to share content, personal opinions, perspectives and insights into various issues. The content can come in various forms, including text, images, audio and video. Overall, social media is a more interactive way to deliver messages and generate conversation.

For public relations, social media has become important because it has added new and innovative ways to get key messages out to audiences and gain coverage of the organization we work for. One new method of doing this is the social media press release.

In our Media Relations and Public Relations Writing courses, we have had plenty of experience writing traditional news releases but not much with the social media press release. We did learn about them, but I definitely thought it would be beneficial to learn more about this tool that could be very important in my career.

First of all, I wanted to know why social media press releases are used; what’s wrong with the traditional ones? Muhammad Saleem, at copyblogger, discussed how to write a social media press release and explained that it’s difficult to get social media communities interested in a press release because they don’t like the way the story is told.

He lists the top three reasons why the traditional news release fails in social media. They are:

1. They have the wrong singular focus, which is on the company issuing the release.

2. They are full of marketing-speak that inherently engenders mistrust in the eyes of the social media audience.

3. They don’t have a specific audience in mind, and are written broadly and presented blandly.

So, basically, the language and presentation doesn’t work with the intended audience. In a profession where the audience must always be kept in mind for communications efforts, we need to be able to adjust and use different methods.

But what is the difference between the social media press release and the traditional sort? Quite a bit, actually! In a Globe and Mail article, Maggie Fox, founder and CEO of Social Media Group, is interviewed and says the difference between the two formats is that the social media press release is multimedia:

It has all of the assets available to tell that story in one place. Instead of hosting it on a server, we do our hostings on YouTube and Flickr. People can access the information in different ways. It’s the press release for 2008. It’s not a piece of text—it’s everything that someone needs.

In her blog The Social Media Press Release – Digital Snippets, Fox discusses social media press releases and the new webservice her company developed called Digital Snippets. She provides a lengthy quote from Collin Douma, Social Media Group’s chief strategist, in which he further explains the difference:

Once released to the public, the traditional press release is not able to evolve the story. The content is often long, tremendously detailed and heavily editorialized text that the “traditional journalist” is paid to sift through. An SMPR, however, cuts out the editorial and streamlines the core content into easily digestible, quotable and most importantly, updatable “Digital Snippets”. This makes every item posted on an SMPR a potential “asset” for the influencers to quote, republish and editorialize credibly.

My understanding is that social media press releases narrow the content down so the core information is delivered in an easy-to-read way, also making it easy for journalists to use in their own stories.  With such advantages, I’m finding it very difficult not to agree that the social media press release will only continue to become more prominent in the future.

Not all social media press releases are laid out in the same way.  Shift Communications was the first to develop a social media release template and other PR firms have followed suit. This is not surprising because from what I’ve been reading, it’s the press release of the future.

March 19, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment