Newswires strive to bolster releases

In today's new-media world, PR pros are leveraging the latest in newswire technology to extend the press release beyond the media and plunge it directly into the mainstream.

In today's new-media world, PR pros are leveraging the latest in newswire technology to extend the press release beyond the media and plunge it directly into the mainstream.

Tags that can be picked up by social networks are now a must to boost press release visibility.

While traditional releases are designed to push content out, primarily to media, new embedded features enable releases to be pulled into one of the more than 300 social networks in circulation today.

When Domino's launched its Cheesy Garlic Bread Pizza in February, it leveraged MultiVu's multimedia news release, which incorporates text, videos, several screen shots, and social media links (del.icio.us, Digg, Technorati, Reddit, newsvine, Google, and Yahoo).

The screen shots displayed the Web site locations where customers could "star" in a commercial by adding a personal photo. Facial features are exaggerated to illustrate the sensory experience offered by the new pizza. More than 86,000 such commercials were posted on YouTube.

"[You need] creative content and elements to generate an experience users will want to share, but also promotes your brand to your target audience," says Dana Harville, Domino's PR manager. "Obviously, this isn't easy."

PR Newswire (which owns MultiVu) recently launched a "Web widget" enabling online users to integrate news and video distributed by PRN into their own homepage, blog, or Web site (compatible with iGoogle, Netvibes, Pageflakes, MySpace, Facebook, TypePad, Blogger, Freewebs, Friendster, Webwag, and Windows Live).

"This allows bloggers, Web site hosts, and individuals with social networking pages easy access to PRN feeds, says Michael Pranikoff, PRN's director of emerging media.

With its "EON: Enhanced Online News" delivery platform, Business Wire converts the traditional news release into a search-engine optimized page of Web content that include photos, graphics, video and multimedia, logo branding, keyword links, formatting, and social media tags.

Selecting the right social media tags, or keywords, is vital. To do so, monitor social networks to see what works, especially what competitors are doing. Study the boards to see what is being written and capture relevant, topical terms to develop tags that are actually being sought.

Today, it's not just veteran customers leveraging such services.

"We used EON for our first-ever release launching our Web site," says Tiffany Starr, VP of marketing for StrutYourHut.com, a real-estate listing service that allows buyers and sellers to post photos, videos, essays, blogs, and messaging to interact.

"We felt the more exposure, the better," she adds. "And, because of the nature of our business and the way the Web is evolving, it makes sense for us to use these tools."

"Our EON delivery platform provides our client's news releases with the long tail which allows the release to be found and highly ranked on search engines, expanding [their] life cycle," says Laura Sturaitis, VP of new media development at Business Wire.

When Zero Gravity, a company marketing of sub-orbital flights, leveraged Marketwire for a promotional campaign, it included a clip of Stephen Hawking in zero-gravity flight, which was downloaded 110,000 times on YouTube.

"The true social media value comes in the effective application of a few simple capabilities, namely, using the hyperlinks that work on downstream news sites to link together a network of social media destinations [YouTube, Flickr, etc.]," says Paul Dyer, Marketwire's new media specialist.

"Don't think it will be easy to penetrate MySpace," says Manny Ruiz, CEO of Hispanic PR Wire. "Think about getting talked about on the boards and develop content that's interesting, relevant, and easy to share.

With ad spending on US social-networking sites expected to eclipse $865 million this year, according to eMarketer, and the new wave of social networks more focused on niche audiences, newswire features that allow users to target these audiences will not be "nice-to-haves" for much longer.


Technique tips

DO

Monitor online sites and search for your company/product name, competitor names, industry terms, to see what works

Be transparent. Don't cloak your identity to prevent backlash

Tinker with your tags and select language that others are using

DON'T


Focus on the push. Make content attractive for audiences to pull

Just link to your homepage. Link directly to specific pages on your site

Tag something with a keyword that no one uses because your item will not be seen

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