Tuesday, October 20, 2009

An Introduction to Social Media News Releases

By Mike Keliher

In this two-part series, I'm going to start with an introduction to what social media news releases are and how they're different from traditional news releases. In the follow-up post, I'll share some thoughts on why you'd want to use a social media release, what exactly you do with one, and ideas for how you might gauge its value.

Maybe you've heard of social media news releases, but do you really know what that phrase means, how these social media releases are different than traditional releases, or what you'd ever do with one of these things? If you're wondering about these things, you're in good company, but let's shine some light on the subject.

Bottom line: The biggest difference between a traditional news release and a social media news release is the format -- the structure of it, the look and feel. Whereas a traditional news release usually resembles that lead-setup-quote, inverted pyramid format they teach in journalism school, social media news releases generally put an emphasis on telling the story a variety of ways: with some combination of traditional narrative writing, bullet point-style "news facts," photos, videos, links to other online resources.

Ultimately, social media news releases can help you tell your story more effectively by busting up that traditional, linear narrative and giving you a chance to let the story shine in whatever format and level of detail serves it best.

If you've spent any amount of time doing media relations work, you'll remember how you often mentioned at the end of a traditional release or in a pitch e-mail "Photos available upon request" because you didn't want to clog up a reporter's inbox with attachments they might not even want. Well, part of the beauty of a social media release is that those photos are right there in the release, ready to be grabbed and placed in a story. They usually have captions right along with them, too. Videos are right there, too, ready for the grabbing and embedding elsewhere.

Want to get a better idea of what they're like? Visit PitchEngine.com, one of the leading social media release-building tools, and take a look at those real-life social media releases. But be warned: some are terrible. Look at several and get a feel for what marketers are doing with this fancy new concept.

Mike Keliher is a Client Relationship Manager for Minneapolis marketing firm Fast Horse and blogger at The Same Rowdy Crowd and Unjournalism.

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