A New Spin on the Traditional Press Release

The focus of this post is the Social Media News Release (SMNR). Here are a few questions that will be answered in this post:

  • What is a SMNR?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of a SMNR?
  • When should a PR practitioner consider using a SMNR?
  • What are some websites that are helpful in creating a SMNR?
  • What are some examples of SMNRs that have already been created?
  • What should be included in a SMNR?
  • What are some tips for creating SMNRs?

The following video, entitled “Social Media News/Press Release” and made by RealWire from WebItPR, gives an overview of what SMNRs are.

  • What is a SMNR?

According to RealWire, “the Social Media News Release (SMNR) is a press release format designed for the online media world. The press release was written with just the “press” in mind, but in the online world your story needs to be told in a format that is relevant to a wide variety of people – journalists, bloggers, publishers and the public at large. It is also designed with the community nature of the online world in mind so it can be shared and commented on in social bookmarking, microblogging and social networking communities.”

In a webinar entitled “The Basics: How to Produce a Social Media News Release” that features Shel Holtz, Holtz lists the following as goals of the SMNR:

  1. Have others tell your story
  2. Accommodate online capabilities
  3. An online press kit
  4. Augments (does not replace) traditional press releases
  5. Published to the web, not over the wire

According to Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques by Dennis L.Wilcox, “the multimedia media release is often used for major event and product launches. Also called the smart media release (SMR), it includes photos, video, and audio. Hyperlinks are embedded into the text, and links are made to social media networking sites.”

  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of a SMNR?

According to Social Media Training, the following are advantages of a SMNR:

  1. Optimized for search
  2. Optimized for conversation
  3. Optimized for sharing
  4. Tells the entire story through multimedia
  5. Provides context on complicated stories
  6. Makes a better impression, visually, than a wire release

In the webinar mentioned above, Holtz points out that SMNRs take about half the time of the creation process of a traditional press release to compose. He also highlights the fact that several studies have shown that three-fourths of journalists prefer SMNRs over traditional press releases, especially since SMNRs produce “ready-to-use foder” for bloggers and online journalists.

From the looks of these advantages, SMNRs seem to be an over-all crowd pleaser. So, what are some disadvantages of SMNRs?

In Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques, Wilcox writes that “it’s still worth remembering that the vast majority of news releases, even those carried by the electronic distribution services, are still basic releases about mundane activities that don’t require photos, videos, or audio components.”

Wilcox includes the following quote from Michael Pranikoff of PR Newswire to demonstrate another factor that has to be considered when deciding between using a SMNR or traditional press release: “No matter how much technology you employ to help make your message stand out from the crowd, if the message doesn’t resonate, the photos, links, and videos won’t help it.”

  • When should a PR practitioner consider using a SMNR?

In the webinar “The Basics: How to Produce a Social Media News Release,” Holtz identifies the following as situations in which PR practitioners should consider using a SMNR:

  1. If he/she is hoping for great online coverage
  2. If he/she wants their news to start a conversation
  • What are some websites that are helpful in creating a SMNR?

The following is a list of resources that can help PR practitioners creating a SMNR:

  1. PitchEngine
  2. PR Newswire
  3. RealWire
  4. PRWeb
  5. PRX Builder
  • What are some examples of SMNRs that have already been created?

Social Media Release by CNW has an archive of numerous SMNRs that have been composed and published for and by various companies.

Click on the company or event names below to see specific examples of published SMNRs:

  1. Minute Maid
  2. Achieving Communications Excellence (ACE) Awards gala
  3. CNW’s Breakfast
  • What should be included in a SMNR?

In the webinar “The Basics: How to Produce a Social Media News Release,” Holtz identifies the following as the core elements of a SMNR:

  1. Core Facts

-In a traditional press release, these are contained within the paragraphs that have been written in narrative format.

-Pull the facts out and reassemble them for your audience.

-These facts should be in bullet format.

-This will make it easier for readers to scan the content and see what the facts are. It will also make journalists more inclined to copy and paste the information to share with others.

2.    Multimedia

-If someone who is planning on writing a SMNR doesn’t have any multimedia, he/she should reconsider whether the release should be a SMNR or not.

-This section of the release includes both images and embedded videos.

-It is obviously a very important part of the release.

3.    Quotes

-Quotes from one’s organization should be divided from quotes from third parties.

-There should be a mix of quotes from CEO’s, customers, and analysts.

-Those writing SMNRs should make sure that people said the quotes and they sound like something that people would actually say.

-The quotes included in a SMNR should contain the personalities and authenticity of the people who said them.

4.      Research Aids

-The job is anyone writing a SMNR is to make the job of reporters easier.

-SMNR writers should collect a bunch of tags that will lead reporters, bloggers, and online communicators to posts that have been written about the topic of the SMNRs that are currently being written.

-This will alow reporters to see what bloggers and others are saying about the topics at hand. It is a great way to find mixed opinions and reactions.

-Links to related content should also be present in SMNRs.

5.       Contact Info

-The contact info present in SMNRs should go beyond what is seen on a traditional press release.

-The contact info present in SMNRs should include a name, phone number, email address, Twitter ID, Skype ID, text message ID, and Facebook ID, if SMNR writers are connected to and are active users of those platforms.

6.       Boiler Plates

-Boiler Plates go at the end of a release. They contain information about the companies the releases are centered around.

-Boiler Plates are stand-alone elements.

7.       Links to Sharing Sites

-These sharing sites can include sites such as Twitter, Delicious, and Facebook.

  • What are some tips for creating SMNRs?

Wilcox presents the following tips for creating SMNRs in Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques:

  1. Include links to pages where multiple instances of your key words/phrases reinforce your message.
  2. Place terms in key positions like headlines and first paragraphs.
  3. Distribute a release through a service that carries hyperlinks to downstream sites such as Yahoo! Finance, AOL News, and Netscape.

On Orbital Media Network’s website, Hayden Allen-Vercoe published a post entitled “Social Media Press Release Tips” in which the following tips are given for writing SMNRs:

  1.  For one… consider how you announce the story in the headline. Will it make a ‘blogger’ with little journalistic experience sit up and take note because it’s entirely relevant to their site?
  2. Ask yourself what value it adds to the blogger’s blog? No value… no coverage.
  3. ‘A picture tells a thousand words’ – bloggers have less time than journalists… can you appeal through a few strong visuals nicely laid out within the release.
  4. Talk as if you are talking to a human (in 1st and 2nd person… NOT 3rd person). The more personal the better it will be received.
  5. Personalise, personalise, personalise where possible!
  6. Avoid corporate and marketing speak, buzzwords don’t sit well with bloggers as it engenders mistrust and is hard to understand.
  7. If you need to, amend your release to appeal to different audiences, never get lazy as you won’t get the returns.
  8. Make the blogger’s life easier by shortening to release to just enough information to make it manageable to read from a time perspective – ½ the length of a trad release (this is where images come into their own).
  9. Angle a social media release more toward a case study – bloggers can therefore see very clearly what the story is angling towards and perhaps relate to their own lives. Stay away from ‘announcements’ and angle your release more towards explaining the techniques employed for success and how you can easily replicate the results.
  10. Text format comes very much into play… avoid reams of standard font text and instead, opt for including larger fonts, boldness and underline to pull out the key messages.
  11. Stick to the point and don’t waste precious space.
  12. Use bullets to get points across quickly.
  13. When you send it out, personalise the email – ideally first name terms. Attach low res (300 pixels wide or high) web ready (RGB) images… this will ensure the blogger has all to hand that they need to get the article live.
  14. Finally, where possible keyword optimise your release. It’s likely that some of your target bloggers will simply cut and paste if they feel the story is strong enough so be prepared for this and ensure you pepper it with gold nuggets!

I hope you found this post informative and have been inspired to create a SMNR the next time you want to spread news about a particular event, company, or organization.

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