Killer PR: Is Social Media the Suspect?

My call with Jenny Hamby is less than 2 hours away and I’m having a hard time pulling myself away from the research about the future of PR.

Getting ready to present motivates me to run down the latest, the freshest, the most provactive research.

And, most of the time my audiences comment: "Wow! I’ve never heard that before!"

Yes, I am into marketing PR shock therapy.

So, what will I reveal today on the call?

(Sorry, Jenny for breaking the news here first – I’m scooping your exclusive.)

Here’s the deal . . . lots of places, sites and people – like an international PR publishing standards group that’s organized to pioneer structures for distribution and reporting, Wikis, Yahoo! groups, Crispy news, feeders of all sorts – are trumpeting the arrival and imminent overthrow of traditional PR by new media.

Well, that’s exciting, edgy and controversial now isn’t it?

But, how is this way out there PR space ship relevant to Jenny’s seminar promoter audience?

Like most marketing . . . it depends – on your where you want your news to go and who you want to read it.

If the pick up receptor is tuned into tags, diggs and media – and your audience is too, check out this Top Rank blog post for a list and primer of  new media resources.

If, however, the news receiver:

  1. suffers from technophobia – like many writers I know
  2. doesn’t know how to read blogs or search for Technorati tags
  3. has no clue how to open up multi-media files
  4. doesn’t know about You Tube
  5. thinks an iPod is for teenagers and mp3 is a motor oil
  6. actually spell checks and follows a style guide
  7. works from a computer that has no speakers
  8. might be techo-savvy but needs to be trained on how to interpret the social media format
  9. appreciates stories written in a traditional news format
  10. prefers to receive plain text email or faxes

. . .  then there’s no point in going all out to fit your news into a format that doesn’t fit their preferred style. They’ll tune out before they ever tune in.

Last week I tested out a social media release format modification. Here’s a simple website with everything reporters needed to cover the event – except downloadable images. Because of design copyright concerns, we wanted to keep track of who requested what.


Every reporter we called wanted the images emailed – and nobody clicked that link. If we’re going to use this system going forward, we’re going to have to be the ones to train the media on how social media works and how the format can enhance their lives – save time, give resources, etc. Do we have time for that? Do they have time for that?

Real live writers (good ones) appreciate a press release that’s more storytelling than writing – that’s why so many of our press releases run verbatim.

On another project, following the new social media format for PR web releases brought the intended results: high search engine rankings, blog pick ups and a quick spike in pages visits.

Until the two types learn to interpret each other’s languages and technologies, the safest bet is to approach each press release project with the end receptor in mind, whether it’s a search engine, blogger, consumer, jounalist or mass-media outlet. Don’t get out that shovel just yet old school PR’s going to be around for awhile – at least in the local markets.

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