The Social Media Release Is Still A Work In Progress

Last Updated Mar 4, 2008 6:01 PM EST

Last week, we started the conversation about the Social Media Release, a new-fangled form of press release that is supposedly more effective for bloggers and other Internet users than the current model.

Today was the audio seminar sponsored by Vocus on the subject, featuring Thom Brodeur from Marketwire, Chris Heuer, founder of the Social Media Club, Monika Maeckle of BusinessWire, Brian Solis, founder of FutureWorks.
Here's a side-by-side comparison of a traditional press release for this event with an SMR version.

As you can see, the "new" release looks a lot like a media advisory.

I sat through the webinar on your behalf, waiting for the one most important piece of information: examples of how this new format was MORE effective than a traditional release in generating coverage. After all, if you don't have evidence of that, you're not going to get your boss to approve changing your company's press release format to this new format. Didn't get it.
So I'd have to say that this is a change whose time is not quite here yet -- in other words, a work in progress.

In case you are wondering, this whole idea was kick-started by a post by a problogger named Tom Foremski, a curmudgeonly type who delights in complaining about PR. Here is the post: Tom Foremski's Die Press Release Die post.

Here are some comments from the webinar:

  • What is SMR and who is it for? It's an easier way for bloggers and others to write your story. It's social and interpersonal rather than one-directional. It's for "everyone" versus a traditional release, which a speaker said was "just for the company."
  • BUT -- the SMR isn't a replacement for a traditional press release. It's an alternative format.
So here's the bottom line: of course, the Internet has changed communications, and we need to adapt. And yes, the old pseudo-news release format is pretty outdated and was never very satisfying to read or write. But I wouldn't rush out to scrap your current format, because the evidence isn't there that this new template is any more effective.

What IS effective is well-written press materials that give the media and other audiences media-ready information including facts and figures, examples, analogies, and human stories, in simple, easy-to-understand language. Keep your sentences and paragraphs short and provide access to background information and graphics via the web. If you do these things, it doesn't matter which 'template' you use.

  • Jon Greer

    Jon Greer has been analyzing media and PR for more than 25 years. He's been a journalist and a PR executive, and has been a featured speaker for many years at the Bulldog Reporter Media Relations Summit, and served as Bulldog's Editorial Director for their PR University series of weekly how-to audio conferences.

    Jon provides PR services including media relations and freelance writing to clients including start-ups, law firms, corporations, investment banks and venture capital firms. In addition, Jon provides spokesperson training. Learn more about Jon's training programs at The Media Bridge.