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I recently participated in a #PHXPR tweet chat lead by Carrie Morgan, contributor to Convenience & Convert and Social Media Today. The topic: The Social Media Release.

First – what is a social media press release?

@morgancarrie it can be as simple as putting ready-to-post  tweets and Facebook-friendly summary on your press release template #PHXPR

@vendragroup An evolved approach to preparing press releases to meet today’s ever changing social media/technology needs? #PHXPR

@caitiequick This press release from HubSpot. A press release where all parts are tweet-able links. http://goo.gl/awXdV  #PHXPR

According to this article in Inc., which uses the example of the widely popular – dare I say, viral -  Will it Blend? video campaign by Blendtec, the success of a social media campaign is dependent on the engagement of the users. Okay, we knew that. So shouldn’t our releases incorporate a social component?

The structure of press releases (or, as HMA prefers to distribute, news releases) has changed little in the past few decades. The way we distribute them has gone digital with email, the way we supplement information has gone digital with hyperlinks, but the content more or less remains text heavy and reporter focused. Which was fine before the line of reporter blurred with bloggers and brand advocates’ reach wasn’t backed by a potentially endless interweb.

One fact does remain true, regardless if the release has made it to a news desk or Joe Shmoe happened to stumble upon it in your news room or came across it via a UG site, is that the reader is more willing to share your release if you make it, well, easy to share. In traditional releases, this means starting with the lead, providing clear, newsworthy information, quotes and all necessary contact information.

@ashleighallen: I think the key tho is having really engaging info to start – just like when you’re pitching a story #PHXPR

But, to your audience you are now able to reach directly thanks to social media, it means providing them with something to click. Include multimedia links directly related to the story like YouTube videos or Flickr images. When providing background and contact information, include links to social media pages, both for the company and as the PR contact.

Here’s where things really change:

Tell your reader what to do with this information. Recommend sharing methods, down to prewritten tweets and Facebook posts that link to key handles and targeted hashtags.

Perhaps the biggest challenge with a social media release is to not get too carried away promoting your company’s social media channels. The focus is still on the newsworthiness of the piece, while the social media components are meant to start the engagement process.

As for distribution, use the same strategy you would with a traditional release by targeting those interested in the topic. Find your audience in forums, groups, pages – places people will be looking for it.

@morgancarrie: my tip: write the release, think about the target audience and how they are social – then integrate those elements that seem to fit #PHXPR

If you are a member of the Phoenix PR Pros group on Facebook, the entire chat transcript can be found under files.  Carrie hosts #PHXPR tweet chats at noon every first Thursday of the month.

Stephanie Lough
Stephanie Lough
A former HMA Public Relations employee.

1 Comment

  1. Stephanie, great article! I came across a really interesting “social news release template” the other day that might interest you – http://prn.to/Y1W3Zm. It has some great ideas on integrating social resources, when clients have them…

    I love your point about not getting carried away with social, though – it is critical to wrap it in where it helps a reporter make sense of the story and turn it into a bigger piece, and share the story across all online channels – but keeping the focus on NEWS, not marketing the news.

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