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01.18.07


Social Media Kills The Press Release Star

By Brian Solis

A New Year is upon us and I think I'll start off the New Year with a rededication to the Social Media Release (SMR), the Social Media Club, and why the hell all of this will matter to marketing, communications and PR professionals this year.

The truth is that somewhere along the way, a few of those who "got it" embraced it as their own, those who are just now learning about it are "not getting" it, and a few of us, are tirelessly working to get everyone up to speed for the betterment of traditional and social media press releases.

Let's face it. Basically, press releases are lame. The existing intention, the process, content, distribution, the metricsit all continues to earn a black eye on the face of 21st century PR. Honestly, most press releases SUCK!

About 10 years ago, search engine optimization (SEO) came along and several smart PR and Web marketers fine-tuned the content of a release for it to index in Yahoo and Google all to improve a company's ranking in search engines. In 2006, this art has only been streamlined. When combined with the science of paid and free wire distribution, press releases can now serve the purpose of announcing news to journalists and bloggers, and when written like an article itself, can now start to appeal to consumers directly.

Ah yes, remember, in 2006, 50% of IT professionals reported getting their news and information from press releases on the web over traditional publications.

In 2006, we also saw the explosion of social media and peer to peer influence. It too represented a "smarter" opportunity to distribute information, and more importantly, become part of the conversation. Nowadays it's less about word of mouth marketing (WOMM) and more about word of "mouse." Yes it's the clicks and links that count, not so much the grapevine.

There's still much to learn on this front, but as of now, small agencies and independent contractors continue to lead the way, while big agencies unfortunately screw the pooch in the public spotlight with highly visible and discussed attempts to fool, capitalize on, or manipulate the market - read Walmart Flogs, StoryCrafter, Acer Ferrari incident, etc. While some credit Edelman with paving a path, when you do so with such awful and vengeful publicity, I start to wonder whether they're helping or tainting the opportunity for social media and new PR.

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And while we're on the subject of new PR, let's talk about the SMR aka hrelease aka social media press release.

Now, more often than not, I'm starting to hear things such as "social media is no mo" and "do journalists really need a social media press release?"

Oh, and my personal favorite, "I've not found a single one who likes the idea of bullet-point news facts. All it does is increase the amount of work they need to do."

Oh and there's also, "I can't see the vast majority of journalists on trade press, regional press etc ever being interested in anything but a release that is as close as possible to what they want to publish."

Hey guys, let's remember.it's not about the people who don't want it; it's about the people who do!

For you comfort-zone marketers, here's the bottomline. Go ahead and write traditional press releases, but do so with meaningful content. Keep it short and get rid of the adjectives, the first, the best, the paradigm-shifts, trend-setting verbiage, 14 quotes, world-famous, etc., and get right down to the meat of it. Reporters aren't reading brochures, they're looking for news, and if you were ever any good at PR or marketing, you'd realize that hyperbole does not give your release a better shot at coverage. When you master thatthen try writing a traditional release specifically for search engines (this is an entirely different discussion, but for the more advanced reader, I want to clearly separate the opportunity for standard, SEO and social media press releases).

Continue reading this article.


About the Author:
Brian Solis is principal at FutureWorks PR, an award-winning PR and Social Media agency founded in 1999. FW PR bridges the communications gap between companies and their customers, and between products and their specific benefits for their target markets. Solis blogs at PR2.0, http://www.briansolis.com, and regularly contributes to many industry trades. He is also frequently quoted in articles relating to technology trends and Marketing/PR strategies.


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