Social Media Release: Give Whoever Whatever They Want

edelman.jpgEdelman, a leading global PR firm, unveiled its entry into the social media release format evolution with StoryCrafter, a web-based tool for creating and publishing social media press releases for their clients, this week.

SHIFT communications paved the way with their social media format structure released in May 2006. To build and distribute a social media release, check out the as-of-now free service at PRX Builder, a straight-forward approach that lets you fill in the blanks and release.

But, you have to know how to fill in the blanks before you begin.

And, that’s the catch with the social media release. Before we beging working in this template, we research keywords and then stack the release to get high ranking press releases.

As an aside, SHIFT seems to be a generous group, freely sharing their secrets in the well-written and researched 30 page downloadable PR2.0 Essentials, a necessarily living document. Thanks guys.

All this social media release stuff is way cool . . . but, uhhhhhhhhh, is this what journalists want?

Maybe it’s just us, but our media contacts don’t get it – yet. When we get too woo-hoo techno-fancy we get emails back asking, “Do you have a press release on this?” [Tip: Always good to have an old-school style release in your creative archive at times like these.]

Never mind all the links to images, logos and even YouTube videos. They want the traditional stuff: a well-crafted story with research completed and quotes already written.

Almost three years ago, we came up with a hybrid version and tested it out with our local media contacts. All of them got it and surprisingly, they all like it. Probably because of its simplicity: a prelude parade of important details, complete with links and an “of note” section (i.e., here’s why you’ll love this story) – followed by a traditional release.

At first they said, “We’ve never seen a release like this before.” That’s the point. That’s why we love evolutionaries like Edelman and SHIFT who keep the game fresh and interesting.

We save the social release formatting stuff for submission to sites like PR Web’s social media release integration platform.

For bigger stories or major events, we often post a single page, continually updated, social media release site as a companion piece to our traditional campaign. Who loves this approach? Our clients and their communities – not the media. Yet, anyway.

Writing and publishing both ways offers a range of options for our clients – having their very own social media website positions them as being edgy, aware and current. Who cares that the journalists still ask for emails with attachments?

Here’s a list of 10 giveaways that the social media format won’t work from my September 27 post Killer PR: Is Social Media the Suspect?

If the [media contact] 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.

One last point, we recently joint promoted a story with an anonymous leading PR firm. When we showed our rep a video press release prototype, the response we got was, “Really exciting stuff, but we’ll wait until it’s more mainstream.” While social media may not catch on right away with journalists [or PR agencies], the edgy techies like bloggers will love it.

How’s the social media release format working for you? Share your experience with a comment below . . .

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