Social media releases are expansive, time-saving option

Call it the more progressive press release. Comprising bulleted key points, executive quotes, links to other news sites for story context and background, and photo and video links, the social media release is an effective tool for communications professionals who are looking to help the age-old PR tool work better in the Internet age.

Call it the more progressive press release. Comprising bulleted key points, executive quotes, links to other news sites for story context and background, and photo and video links, the social media release is an effective tool for communications professionals who are looking to help the age-old PR tool work better in the Internet age.

Todd Defren, principal of SHIFT Communications, says this new form is beneficial because more companies will be able to announce minor news on their official blogs, not through a standard press release. The agency recently used the format to introduce client Cymfony's Influence 2.0 initiative.

Defren adds that more news releases will be written as if they could be stand-alone stories; they will be search engine optimized, and PR pros may submit them more aggressively to sites like Digg.com.

"[The release] could end up on Digg with no intervention from the mainstream media," he says. "We could bypass traditional media and take the story directly to the people."

It could put an end to the shotgun approach of spamming journalists who don't even cover the topic.

"More press releases will be sent directly to the 10 people - reporters or bloggers - who might actually care about the news," he notes.

But the release can also be useful for traditional journalists, as it cuts down on time ordinarily used for researching background for a story, says Chris Heuer, founder of the Social Media Club (SMC).

"It makes it easier for journalists to do their jobs," he says. "Now, they are wasting their time deconstructing the press release."

Brian Solis, principal of FutureWorks and an SMC member, says the format is suitable for any type of client, regardless of industry.

"It really does provide a lot of opportunities for markets, from music downloading to Chevy Super Bowl ads," he says.

"I don't see one industry that would not benefit," adds Heuer. "This is evolutionary, not revolutionary. It has been a long time coming."

Key points:

Social media press releases save time for firms

Links allow limitless information to be transmitted

Breaking news into key points rather than a story helps reporters understand issues faster

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