Digital pebbles

Clarke Mulder Purdie on PR, media and other random topics

Mulling over the social media news release

Posted by Graham Hayday on September 17, 2007

We’ve got a company away-day tomorrow (or in this case away-half-day – we’ve got so much on at the moment that we can’t afford a whole day out of the office).

I’m due to present on the things journalists dislike about PRs. I’m quite looking forward to that. Having spent 13-odd years as a hack (and many of them were very odd), I’ve long wanted the chance to air some of my personal pet hates. I doubt any of my colleagues are guilty of such crimes as calling just before a deadline, of course, but still – I hope I can impart a few words of wisdom. (If you’ve got any good ones of your own, please do let me know. I’ll post my list once tomorrow’s done and dusted).

After that I’m thinking of talking about the social media news release (SMNR), or social media release (SMR), or whatever you want to call it. The problem is that I’m not entirely sure I’m sold on the concept. True – the much linked-to Shift Communications templates for the social media release and social media newsroom look fantastic.

I’ve got printouts of them in front of me on my desk as I type, and my instinct tells me this is indeed the future. In fact it’s probably the present – see GM and Cisco et al for evidence.

This story in PR Week (registration required) even suggests there is journalistic demand for more multimedia content in PR communications.

And it goes without saying (although I am nevertheless going to say it) that embedding ‘bloggy’ concepts such as tagging and social bookmarking in press releases is bound to help spread the word online.

However there’s still a part of me that wonders if there’s some ’emperor’s new clothes’ type behaviour going on here. PR Week quotes Will Ham-Bevan, the deputy editor of Telegraph Create (The Telegraph’s advertorial unit) as saying:

“For a press release to stand out, it really has to make a song and dance. If I can click to a pack-shot at 300dpi, I am far more likely to use it.”

But what happens if there comes a time when all releases look like this? What happens when we realise we’re all naked (as it were) and journalists and bloggers can only make their decisions based on what lies under all the multimedia, blogger-friendly bells and whistles?

Yes, there may be an opportunity for the more progressive PR agencies and clients to steal a march on the competition and gain some early adopter advantage by doing this sort of thing right now and grabbing the attention of time-poor journalists. But in the long run I suppose it’ll be the quality of the story itself that will really count, not the way in which the story is presented.

Plus ca change, as they probably rarely say in France.

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One Response to “Mulling over the social media news release”

  1. You are right that ultimately it is the CONTENT of the news release that will get it noticed (or not). The bells and whistles of Social Media are about expanding the greater online population’s ability to discover, re-purpose, share and converse re: each release.

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