I had a conversation with Phil Gomes, Vice President at Edelman Public Relations regarding the social media news release (SMR). Phil interviewed for my book and provided me with his insight and Edelman’s perspective on social media. The issue popped up – is a company engaged in social media if it is simply using a social media template? Phil had a strong opinion about the topic. The two cannot be conflated. If a company is using a social media template, then they have modernized their news release. I agree with Phil and Edelman’s position. A company using an SMR certainly has taken a step in the right direction, but has a long way to go to be fully engaged in social media.
Using the social media template for your news releases is a good way to get started. However, there’s so much more that you can be doing. The only way to embrace social media is to dive in and try it. Every brand will move at a different pace. And, we’ve seen how consumer brands have moved quickly to provide their audiences with communication that they can control and share with members of their Web communities. The social media release is one such tool that provides direct to consumer communication that Web 2.0 audiences crave.
However, it’s really easy to learn and use other resources including RSS technology and blogs. One of the easiest means to reach a targeted audience is through an RSS feed. You may not be aware, but when you distribute your news over a wire service (i.e., PR Newswire, BusinessWire or Marketwire) you’re automatically included in the news wire services RSS feed, which is usually offered through the service provider’s website. In addition, there are also online publications (for instance, trade and business websites) that will send out your news releases as a free service if the publication is selecting your editorial content in an issue. Reed Business Publication is a good example of one such publisher that provides this type of value added service. Lastly, a brand can set up an RSS feed on its own site so that audiences can sign up to receive targeted news and information (i.e., Dendrite and Deloitte & Touche).
Another great way to get started is to begin blogging. Most companies have blogs set up for their executives and other employees of the company. For today’s Web audiences, they want to know the people behind the company, who they are purchasing their products and/or services. It was Mark Brooks, a marketing consultant interviewed in my book, who stated, “If you don’t take a stance, you don’t stand for anything.” I agree with Mark. So do many B2B organizations that are blogging today. Companies can’t hide behind their logos anymore. Microsoft and Cisco realized this and were early on the blogging scene with their senior executives speaking out and giving their companies a “voice.” Blogging is one of the first steps before taking the larger leap into social networking and a great way for companies to become humanized.