Social Media News Releases

What is a Social Media News Release?

The social media press release takes the basic press release and alters it to be more suitable to the web environment. Like the traditional press release, the goal of the SMPR is to provide concise information to journalists and other web writers which will assist them in writing about your topic or business. In addition to the basics of the press release, the SMPR makes use of keywords and links to get the attention of a web-savvy audience.

Noted social media blogger Brian Solis wrote the definitive guide to social media releases in 2008, and his definition still stands true: “A social media release should contain everything necessary to share and discover a story in a way that is complementary to your original intent; but, the difference is, how they find it and the tools they use to share and broadcast. Social media is one big extension to the web, except it promotes voices, along with content, in a way that focuses on people and their social networks.”

The advancements of the Internet and of social channels has made the traditional format of a press release less effective as journalists, press members and readers crave small chunks of succinct details that incorporate social media, linking and multimedia to make it more digestible and relevant. The quicker, easier and more creatively you can get your point or message across, the more likely it is to be picked up, shared, re-tweeted, or more. And one thing you should not overlook is the use of keywords. It will help your search engine optimization and get your point across quickly yet effectively.

The main reason that you’ll use the SMPR is the same reason that you would use a traditional press release: to get attention for your website or business. The reason that you’ll want to use a social media press release instead of a traditional press release is because it offers benefits to the online reader. For example, you can use keywords to optimize the SMPR and make it more noticeable to search engines which will get it more attention on the web.

To write the social media press release, you will follow the same basic format as with a traditional press release. You’ll want to have a catchy headline. You’ll also want to focus on a specific benefit of your business or product and drive home several points emphasizing that benefit.

The main things that you will do differently with the SMPR are:

  • Use bullet points which are popular online but not common to the traditional press release.
  • Use links within your text to direct people to your site and to articles about your site.
  • Make sure that you use SEO tactics such as keyword use in the article.
  • Include your IM and VoIP contact information.
  • Incorporate multimedia links like audio files or embedded videos.
  • Use “add to” widgets for popular bookmarking sites like Digg or Del.icio.us

How to:

Once you’ve determined that you need to write a press release incorporating social media, if you have an understanding of traditional releases, it shouldn’t be hard to grasp the essential elements that need to be included. You can talk to five different PR professionals and they’ll tell you differently where these elements need to fit into your release, but they need to be there in some capacity.

1. Headline: exactly as it says, focus on brevity. Get to the point and don’t try to be too creative. A few keywords should get the job done.

2. Secondary headline (optional): If you have an extremely important nugget of information that you think will get users to read on, put it here. Otherwise, skip to the overview.

3. Overview: A brief summary of the release and what you’re covering. This is where you will hook the reader or lose them, so keep it under two paragraphs, use keywords and put real thought into every single sentence.

4. Body: The so-called meat of the release, this should be the news. Don’t scatter bias in here; just lay the facts out for what you are pitching (think about it like a journalist would, and cover the who, when what, where, why and how).

5. Facts: You need some statistical data or bullet points to back up your claim from above. This information should be easily shareable so if someone wanted to pull this right out of your release, they could.

6. About the Company: Very brief company bio with a link to your website, Twitter feed and Facebook fan page.

7. Multimedia links: The social aspect of the release, this should include videos on YouTube, images, RSS feeds and more. You don’t want people to be driven away from your message, but you want to be seen as a useful resource.

8. Relevant links: This is a good way to promote your company and what you’ve done a bit more. If you have related releases, include links to them here. While this particular product might not be a fit, if you’ve kept someone’s interest this long, they may find your other products of use.

9. Tags: Recommended sharing methods, whether via social bookmarking sites, Twitter hashtags or Facebook fan pages.

10. Contact: This may sometimes be overlooked, but don’t forget to include your name, email, Twitter alias and more. If you are willing to put all of that info out there and stand behind your release, it lends it a bit more credibility.

Releasing/ Distributing:

There are several different ways to distribute the SMPR. You’ll want to try out different options to see which works best for you. Some of the common methods are:

  • Use traditional web press release services such as PR Web.
  • Use your online social networking and social bookmarking sites to distribute a link to your SMPR.
  • Post the SMPR as a blog entry and promote it as a blog post.
  • Submit it to article submission directories online.
  • Promote it through related forums.
  • Include a link to the SMPR on your email signature.
  • Identify probloggers in your topic area and contact them with your SMPR in the hopes that they’ll publish it or write about it.
  • Send the SMPR to your favorite related online magazines through their press contact form.
  • Create a video revealing the information in your SMPR and promote it through sites like YouTube.
  • Use one of the new social media release companies which will distribute your press release for your company.

Fortunately, many press release distribution sites offer multimedia press release capabilities, including the ability to embed video directly into release copy. Today’s stories travel at the speed of social – and trust us – the speed at which a social network can communicate news is a rate that puts sound and light to shame. Tying your multimedia press release into these networks is one of the surest ways to ensure your messaging will resonate throughout large swatches of your target audience.

During and after distribution, help your multimedia press release travel socially by linking it to a variety of social media services that allow users to read and rate your content. And remember to bookmark your release to social sites, including Delicious, where your audience gathers to freely read – and better yet – share, content.

Advantages & Disadvantages:

A – Sharing is quicker and easier, it makes sharing sources and related information about the topic easier through links.

A – SMNRs are optimized for dialogue, search capabilities and sharing via e-mail or other social media sites.

A – Since SMNRs tell stories through both words and multimedia, more in-depth context helps explain complicated stories.

A – Members of the media can be directly linked to company websites, videos, podcasts, etc. directly

A – A broader variety of people on the internet have access to your SMNR.

D – Anybody can create an account and fabricate an inaccurate or totally “made up” story. Other than that I think social media news releases.

D – Sometimes all the hype of a SMNR could be distracting and detract from the actual point of the announcement.

D – Since some journalists prefer plain hard copies of releases and are not ready for media releases that contain links, photos, videos and other social media sites. Many portals will not accept releases that have special formatting such as italicized and bold fonts, and bullets and indentions because they are more difficult to be syndicated.

D – Sometimes the links and features that are present in the SMNR are “unclickable” or do not repost in the correct format making it impossible for a journalist to find the information you have send, ultimately frustrating them.

Sites to help you create your own SMNR:

There are multiple distribution methods for your SMPR. You can email, fax broadcast, post and link on your website or use distribution services. Distribution services typically come in two flavors – paid and free.

Services with payment are very costly ranging in prices from $350 to $3500 depending on length, images and circumference, local, regional, national or international. The advantage of a paid service is that media and blog contacts are kept current and you will often receive specific instructions that pertain to how each individual likes to be approached and contacted. Additionally, you receive access to syndicated newswires like the Associated Press, Reuters and others which aren’t typically available through free services.

Free distribution of your SMPR can take place via a multitude of sites. Each has advantages and disadvantages. Ultimately, it will be up to you to determine which one is the best outlet for you and your brand. Some of the more popular free distribution sites are PRLog, i-Newswire and Press Release Point. You’ll want to research what’s included in the free distribution service and find out what types of flexibility you have with customizing your distribution list. This will help you get your SMPR into the hands of the right people. For instance, if a site informs you that they distribute to all the major national newspapers you should ask if they have distribution points to journalists that focus on specific content like health, technology or finance.

5 Examples of good SMNR’s:

  1. Southwest Airlines Takes Blogging to the Next Level (Southwest via Marketwire)
  2. Abu Dhabi Inspired Bespoke Phantoms Debut (Rolls-Royce via RealWire)
  3. Winter on ITV2 (The U.K.’s ITV2)
  4. Cisco Connected Life Contest (Cisco)
  5. Momentum Continues to Build Behind SUSE Linux Enterprise 10 (Novell via PRNewswire)

Tips:

1. Keep headlines short. Make sure your headlines are no longer than 80 characters, Mascott advises. “If you want something that’s going to be shared, a long bureaucratic headline is not going to generate any word-of-mouth or traffic on social-media websites,” he says. Ask yourself, “If this appeared on Facebook, would I click on it?”

2. Choose your keywords. What are some common words or phrases people would use to search the Internet for this information? Use these keywords early to optimize your headline for search engines and then repeat them throughout the story. Avoid generic phrases such as “the product” or “the company” when your keywords will work.

3. Tell a story. “Write like a person and not an organization,” Mascott says. Get rid of the marketing-speak and craft a narrative you’d like to read in the newspaper. Mascott doesn’t advise using bullet points in the main text, but others do.

4. Aim for “diagonal” readers. “Diagonal” readers take in a story in 10 seconds or less. “People don’t read an article like they read a book,” Mascott explains. “There’s an awful lot of scanning going on.” Help readers hit your most important points with:

  • Subsection headers. Search engines can also index a story more effectively if you break up your story into subsections and write a subtitle for each section using keywords.
  • Boldface. Search engines appear to pick up on bolded and underlined words better than plain fonts.
  • Pictures, graphs and summaries. Make key concepts easy to grasp.

5. Create multimedia objects. Make creative use of video, photos and interactive objects that can be embedded and shared. Rather than including a canned quote within the story, consider recording a video of an executive making the statement and uploading it with a transcript. Long sections of block copy, regardless of how well written, appear as work for the reader. And unfortunately, if work is a requirement to read online content, the online content in question will oftentimes not be read. Break up copy in a multimedia press release by using strategically placed images that support your concept. These images could range from basic (think your company logo, or a jpeg of your product or service) to the more complex (think graphs and pie charts that tell your story at a glance, or scrolling photo galleries.) The inclusion of images gives a richer feel to your content, helping your multimedia press release cut through the sheer volume of competition online. If each picture is worth one thousand words, the value a video – made up of thousands of individual image frames – borders on astronomical. An embedded video, timed at 1 – 3 minutes, will do more than just grab the attention of your reader. Instantaneously, your story transforms from two dimensional words on a piece of paper (or computer screen) – to a three dimensional story complete with a storyline, characters and imagery. This is what audiences remember, and this is how your message becomes combustible in the mind of the audience.

6. Provide resource links. Link to executive bios, company fact sheets, downloadable logos, and a del.icio.us or Digg page that aggregates articles supporting — or even opposing — your point of view. These features are timesavers for journalists and bloggers, making them more likely to turn your SMR into a story.

7. Make sharing easy. Ensure your release syndicates to RSS readers, shows up error-free when pulled into Facebook, Twitter or other sites, and comes in a printer- and e-mail-friendly version. Include one-click buttons for popular social-media sites at the bottom of your SMR. If you don’t have an IT person to help, go to a DIY site such as AddThis.com or ShareThis.com to generate embeddable code.

8. Make feedback easy. Include a section for moderated comments at the bottom of your release. SMRs are all about fostering dialogue about your news.

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