April 1, 2010

What Ever Happened to the Social Media Press Release?

A couple of years ago, the social media press release was all the rage. No longer would companies send tree-killing press kits to reporter, or issue boring press releases with canned quotes from senior executives that no one ever used.

Instead, the social media press release would revolutionize everything by providing reporters and bloggers with an engaging, interactive and user-friendly to get information, audio clips, photos and videos - everything that a time-strapped reporter or blogger needed to do their jobs, while giving companies a way to really tell their stories.

As important, it was also seen as a way for PR firms to charge clients premium fees because, after all, there’s a lot more work to prepare a social media press release compared with a 400-word text-only press release.

For whatever reason, the social media press release has little traction. Sure, they are still around but it’s not like companies are demanding they be created. Most of my clients don’t ask for them, and I don’t tell because the effort required to create one doesn’t seem worth it given most reporters and bloggers don’t bother reading press releases - regardless of whether they’re a social media or “old” version.

In fact, I would argue that relationships and pitches are far more important than social media press releases, and, as a result, this is what PR practitioners and companies should focus on. When you’re reaching out to a reporter or blogger, it’s the two or three introductory paragraphs in an e-mail that play a crucial role in whether they will be intrigued or hit the delete button. If you can capture their attention, they might read the press release to get some more information but in most cases, a reporter or blogger will call or e-mail you to get more information or set up an interview.

In theory, I love the idea of the social media press release but in practice it hasn’t been a home run.

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