Understanding the Social Media Release

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It’s critical for companies to recognize that the online conversation can no longer be ignored; now they must move forward with new tools and tactics to enhance communication. One such tool is the social media press release (SMR), which is a press release distributed on the Internet through any number of online distribution platforms such as PRWeb or MarketWire. SMRs allow organizations to participate in online conversations and reach niche segments through the use of search engine optimization (SEO). Using the right keywords and tags in SMRs allows companies to bypass traditional gatekeepers and converse directly with their desired audience.

An SMR can include interactive features such as online video and social media tags for RSS feeds and aggregator sites like del.icio.us and Reddit. There are no hard and fast rules on the exact structure of the SMR. Its flexible format allows public relations specialists to determine the most effective means of communicating the information. The SMR may be a simple exchange of facts, with quotes and boilerplates, or a breaking news story. The SMR’s multidimensional format can provide reporters with resources like online videos, photos and podcasts that can be repurposed for news sites or to accompany online stories.

SMRs provide quantitative results for public relations campaigns. They can be measured using a number of metrics, including the number of individuals who viewed the press release, which news sites picked up the story, and how many headline impressions the release attained, to name a few. Multimedia elements such as video and downloadable white papers also increase the measurability of SMRs. They offer an excellent addition to the standard press release because they highlight key areas of the organization and are user-friendly for journalists who search the Web for stories that fly under the radar.

Companies that use the social media press release are looking for alternative routes to get noticed, and this trend is spreading. Companies need to take a serious look at how this new format is changing the way PR practitioners address their audience—from a one-to-one dialogue to a more collaborative conversation that pulls in a new audience of bloggers and other interested parties who are feeding off of search engines and RSS-driven services for news and insight. As we move in this direction, other changes will start occurring, from the rise of blogger reviews, to changes in how newsrooms look, to social media to keep track of news and trends.

The move to SMRs is not a move away from the traditional press release but rather part of the evolution of the PR profession. It’s important to remember that the underlying principles of good communication remain intact within these new practices. With SMRs, the mutual benefit of all parties is merely extended to the online environment.

As the use of SMRs increases, PR professionals face the new challenge of getting their clients up to speed on these advances. Not all companies are built to participate in the unmanaged environment of the Internet. Messages can be tailored, but once they are out there, the online community will do what they want with them. It’s important for PR professionals to talk to their clients about the pros and cons of such exchanges, and help them determine whether or not moving into the online environment is a good move for their business.

There is still a time and a place for the standard press release. Some news just isn’t suitable for the social media press release, such as when a group needs to convene for a meeting or press conference. We can’t expect the press to show up if we send out a social media release on the Internet. They may not be hunting for our particular release that day, or they may not have access to the feeds that are distributing our content. Here we need to be mindful of what is acceptable based on the tone and timing of the news.

So how do we keep up with all of these innovations? The answer is always timing. The timing is right when you feel ready to move forward. Don’t push yourself to be part of the social media movement if you aren’t ready. The best thing to do is talk to an expert about what your options are. This gives you a leg up on what the social media landscape offers and outlines the best approach for your business model. Much of this is dependent on how you expect to be heard and measured. If measuring impressions is your goal, then offline media exposure is the best route. But if searchable content with videos and other digital files that can drive traffic to your web site and create leads for your business is the model you desire, go for the social press release and other tactical channels that will achieve this for you.

The social media press release is a springboard for advancing your current social media activities; however, the effects are limited. There are limitless opportunities on the Internet to convey your information to consumers, businesses, reporters and bloggers. All of this leads to great brand building, online visibility and tactical resources that can be repackaged for channels like video and other content sharing sites, as well as blogs. It’s important to take the first step. After that, your social media strategy will begin to evolve, and countless resources on the Internet will be at your disposal.

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