Almost daily, I find myself explaining and counseling on the differences between the Social Media Release (SMR) and the traditional news release. When I look at the SMR template and the traditional press release, I immediately notice the differences just based on the information in the SMR and the way it’s organized. SMR’s are not fluffy paragraphs of hype or inflated content. Rather, they are succinct stories with bulleted information, approved quotes and interactive content including podcasts, video, hyperlinks, high resolution images, etc.
However, reviewing my explanations, I think I’ve found the easiest way to make other communication professionals, business owners, entrepreneurs and executives get the major difference – it’s the ability to use the SMR as a viral tool that is shared by people in web communities.
The news wire services such as Marketwire and PR Newswire are successfully providing traditional news releases or multimedia releases with these downloadable elements. Traditional news releases can be search engine optimized (with hyperlinks and key words) and they can also be enhanced with multimedia, but they are generally not equipped with sharing tools and they are not distributed over the wire.
The distinguishing differences are in the sharing and the platform of the SMR. It’s the sharing tools including: Reddit, Digg, Technorati, Facebook, Twitter, Delicious, Newsvine, Furl and many other Web 2.0 applications that allow people to gather, organize and share the information in an SMR. The sharing tools make the difference. The other distinctive feature is that the SMR is housed on a blog platform with the ability for people to comment. Although many of the newswire services have added some of what I call the “PR 2.0 sharing tools” (as I mentioned above), SMRs typically don’t go out over the wire. Brian Solis and I wrote about these very differences in Chapter 8 of our new book, “Putting the Public Back in Public Relations“.
“SMRs should not cross the wire. They should be hosted on a specific company blog channel dedicated to SMRs to complement traditional releases, SEO releases, company blog posts, and all other outward focused communications. Any customizable blogging platform will more than likely serve as an effective-and social-platform. Remember that a traditional Web page isn’t necessarily social, so any published SMRs on a standard Web site will most likely not appear in social search.”
It’s the viral component and the ability to tell many different stories that are meaningful to people in web communities that are the major difference between the SMR and the traditional result. SMRs enable you to share news. They also allow readers to bookmark and share the content with anyone at anytime, with one-click from the news release.
As a result, communications professionals need to recognize when and why they need to use the SMR. It’s more than just a new, shiny object; it can be a very powerful tool that ignites conversations and two way conversations with journalists, bloggers and customers.