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Social media news releases offer communicators new resources to build brand, drive traffic

Posted by Elena del Valle on February 23, 2010

By Edward M. Bury, APR


Edward M. Bury, APR

Communicators today need to maximize every resource available to make sure messages reach their target audiences, and perhaps a few more. This is especially true in an era when online communications and social media continue to eclipse traditional print and broadcast media in many ways.

The social media news release (SMR) has emerged as an option to help communicators deliver messages effectively and efficiently without relying on the traditional or mainstream media. In short, social media news releases are a communications tool that lets groups, companies and organizations self-publish messages online. It’s a relatively new resource, but one that every communicator needs to understand and incorporate into public relations and marketing programs.

To get a visual idea of the SMR format, here is a link, http://www.shiftcomm.com/downloads/smprtemplate.pdf, to a social media news release template created in 2006 by a company called Shift Communications. Since Shift unveiled the format, new online media companies have emerged to provide distribution platforms for distributing SMRs. Even some of the established media communications, distribution and monitoring services have entered the SMR market.

The content below provides more on SMRs in the classic Q & A format:

1.Q. What is a social media news release?

A. A social media news release (or SMNR/SMR) is a self-published online announcement that generates search engine visits, drives traffic to a web site and gives organizations that publish them the means to communicate to customers or stakeholders without relying on “traditional” media to deliver the message. SMRs also have the potential to engage journalists and non-journalists into two-way conversations with the organization that distributed the message.

2.Q. Why use a SMR?

A. Social media press releases provide links to additional resources that are helpful for story research and they also package information into formats that are easy to use for quotes and citing references/statistics. Links to web pages, images, podcasts and video also add impact to the release and encourage dialogue with those who view the SMR.

Q. What’s the purpose?

A. SMRs address changing needs of the end consumer and increasing ease of use for the media. It lets you communicate instantly.

3.Q. What’s the cost?

A. To post a basic release on selected SMR sites (PitchEngine, PRXBuilder, PressItt) is free. There are fees for services that keep the message up indefinitely or enhance search engine results. Long-standing distribution sites like MarketWire have entered the arena with a distribution option called Social Media 2.0. The costs here will vary based on a wide range of subscription factors.

4.Q. Is a SMR the same as a “traditional” news release?

A. No. A good SMR generally is shorter, with a compelling – but short – headline and subhead, one or two paragraphs of news, bullet points, links to pertinent sites, blogs, videos, podcasts, images and other online resources. To make the release effective, keywords or tags (a word or set of words that are descriptive and specific to your site or page) need to be included in the message. It takes skill to draft an effective SMR.

5.Q. How can it help you build your brand?

A. Gives you complete control over distributing your message. Once you publish your SMR, you can push it out to the blogosphere, social media sites and other online communities like Digg, Delicious and StumbleUpon. Also, sites let you see the number of visits by those who found the SMR through an online search. This helps with gauging the effectiveness of the SMR and contributes to the overall

6.Q. Will SMRs replace traditional media relations activities?

A. No. Still continue with traditional media relations as part of an integrated campaign. But it makes sense to incorporate SMRs into traditional media relations campaigns because you have the potential to deliver your message to a much wider audience.

Edward M. Bury, APR, is the principal of Open Door Communications, a Chicago-based public relations and marketing consultancy. He blogs at: http://www.prdude.wordpress.com

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