Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Social Media Press Releases: Digging Deeper

So far, the ## of downloads for our Social Media Press Release template hovers at approximately 3,500.

I've also learned through PR Newswire that almost 700 registered journalists took a look at our announcement.

Meanwhile, almost 80 bloggers have made note of the template, in some form or another, and the reception has been overwhelmingly positive.

Pretty cool... but, some folks have raised some legitimate objections, so I want to see what I can do to sway them, a bit. To do so, we must dig deeper into the features, motivations and opportunities created by the new format.

The primary objection is best summed up by Susan Getgood: "The focus needs to be on content. Crappy content in a new form does NOT equal a good press release." ... (Special award for snarkasm goes to Brian Oberkirch of Ketchum, who talked about how we were merely "tarting up message points" --- great line!)

I am in whole-hearted agreement with these objectors. Even though the bullet-point format should minimize a lot of the "superlative" bad writing, the Social Media Press Release must be well-written. And, it does not replace the need to participate in on-going conversations.

With that said, please, explore with me. Let's take the time to examine some of the finer points:

As I mentioned at Susan's site, one benefit to the Social Media Press Release is that it could enable the widescale distribution of multimedia content that will be relevant not just to mainstream journalists but to bloggers, as well. Bloggers like pictures, to "tart-up" their posts (thanks, Brian). But that's one of the simplest of its benefits.

Now, think about the digg button on the Social Media release. Maybe no mainstream journalist covers your release, but, a few bloggers "digg" & comment on it --- and potentially a release that would have died on the vine becomes a full-scale meme ... which in turn leads to mainstream coverage! Such a scenario is possible for the first time, now. The Social Media release facilitates this scenario.

Dig deeper: I am increasingly excited about "Pitching 2.0". PR pros can become "stewards of the storyline" ... Rather than just get journalists to subscribe to our clients' pressroom RSS feeds, we might want them to subscribe to a site where we can "build" a story for them via links and our own notes/opinions. Essentially, the PR pro can become the journalists' and bloggers' Research Assistant, via on-going updates to the site. And how do you get the original access to the "purpose-built" page & accompanying RSS feed? In part, through the Social Media Press Release!

More to come.


Anonymous Brian Oberkirch said...

Hi Todd. Thanks for the update post on this. Just wanted to note that I run Weblogs Work. I just did a speaking gig @ Ketchum a few weeks ago.

June 14, 2006  
Anonymous Susan Getgood said...

My main concerns about the social media press release are concerns, not really objections. Todd mentions one above, which is that I believe content is the issue, not form. I fear that overemphasis on form may create even worse press releases than we already see.

My other concern has to do with focusing on tools, like whether it a press release or a page, versus the real work in communications, which is actually relating to people one on one. Real conversation, real relationships.

I think all these tools are useful, and can be a big help in the practice of public relations. But we need to get the fundamentals right first.

Here's an idea Todd. Instead of a working group to develop a social media press release, why don't we have a workshop or panel or something like that to bring together the proponents and the "concerned" to work through these issues. We're both in the Boston area, we could make something like this happen.

June 14, 2006  
Blogger PR-Guy said...

I'm game, Susan.

June 15, 2006  
Blogger John Wagner said...

Todd ... one thing you've never addressed is the fact that many publications (and websites) will run relevant news releases verbatim.

In those instances, it's obviously better to provide them with full text that you've crafted, right?

I believe the Social Media template would work great for reporters such as Foremski who don't want full text, but what about the editors who do?

I see the template as being more like a "fact sheet" that can either accompany a full-text release or be used stand-alone for reporters who are doing their own story.


June 15, 2006  
Blogger PR-Guy said...

Hi John -
First off, to start things off, I am zealous but not a zealot: I readily acknowledge the wisdom of your thoughts.

I do agree, as well, that sometimes reporters will take a release and paste whole sections of it into an article. But, in my experience this is the exception rather than the rule (as is proper). Also, there are entire sections of the Social Media press release (SMPR) that can be "lifted" in that manner, i.e., executive quotes. Even the bullet points found in the "Core News" section can be pretty readily woven together...

So, no, I wouldn't want to see the SMPR become an adjunct to a traditional release. I do think the SMPR can stand on its own, and, to meet Susan's point, I do think that the onus is on the marketer to ensure that the content is high-quality and relevant.

June 15, 2006  

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