Another take on the Social Media Release

We had the pleasure this week of launching another Social Media Release (SMR), this time to mark NutriSystem’s arrival in the Canadian market.

Meanwhile, Craig McGill, a British journalist and author, challenged some of the assumptions about SMRs, based on the one we created for com.motion’s launch. He had some very kind words to say about what Veritas/com.motion is doing over here on this side of the pond, but also raised some questions about the medium.

Here’s my thoughts on the issues he raises. Craig writes:

1) Most journalists don’t have time to sit and sift through all of that detail. There’s three videos there, survey results, highlights and a traditional press release. If the journalist is interested, what they want is the story quickly so they’ll rip the traditional release, play about with it a little, give it a new intro and move on. The journalist expects all the main points to be in that press release, making the rest a little
superfluous.


My experience as a journalist was little different. Yes, journalists need to be able to access the key facts fast. But I always appreciated it when I had an array of background materials to help me in putting my story together. Even if 99 per cent of it was irrelevant, the other 1 per cent could save me time and make my story stronger. Not only that, but I think the bullet-point facts in an SMR allow journalists to access the key facts even faster than a traditional press release written in paragraph form.

2) If this is sent as a URL link in an email, 9/10 (at least)
journalists won’t even click on it, based on my experience.

This remains to be seen. While I think Craig’s 90-per-cent estimate of non-link-clickers is too high, it’s reasonable to assume that there are dinosaurs in every newsroom who won’t open links. Some may still prefer to get press releases by fax. That’s why, when pitching journalists we don’t know, we tend to cut and paste the traditional press release into the body of the e-mail in addition to providing them with the SMR link. It’s a different issue with blogger relations. They tend to favour links and to shun cut-and-paste jobs.

3) How long is a press release like that going to take to get pulled together? Unless you have a large team ready to do each release – writing, editing, production – with fairly decent kit it’s going to take a considerable amount of time, which is time not spent on other clients.

SMRs take time. So do traditional press releases. But if they add value for our clients, then it’s time well spent.

4) What’s the approval process going to be like? It can take days for clients to approve a couple of pars and it can take weeks for a final release to be approved. What will they be like with video? Will there be notes saying ‘take out 2:28 until 2:56 but definitely keep in 3:45-4:01′?

Not every SMR needs to have an interview. Sometimes video can be incorporated in other ways, such as a television commercial or a product demo. And in my experience the length of the approvals process depends more on the client — and whether there are lawyers involved — than on the medium of the release.

5) If you want the audio to be useful to TV crews make it available in a decent format for download, not YouTube Flash.

Agreed. This video is not suitable for TV, but designed for bloggers. By hosting videos on YouTube it is easy for bloggers to embed, as David Jones did here with one of the videos we produced for com.motion’s launch.

6) On that note, where’s the audio for the radio stations and podcasts? I know I go on and on about this, but you have to think standalone audio as well as video.

Point taken. An MP3 file for podcasts would have been a good idea, particularly for the launch of a social media division.

David concludes by writing that what he likes most about SMRs is that they show that public relations is PR not MR (media relations):

For a journalist what is on the site is probably too much, but for someone looking into the topic it’s fantastic if they have the time to sit and read/watch it all.

Agreed. SMRs have three targets: journalists, bloggers and customers/consumers. The best SMRs are the ones that balance these interests and prioritize them according to each communications initiative.

A press release you can’t send through snail mail

I’ve written a handful of press releases since I arrived at Veritas. I must have read thousands of press releases as a reporter — out of hundreds of thousands that I received through e-mail, fax and even good old fashioned snail mail.

Much has been written about the press release lately — from Tom Foremski’s call for the death of press releases to Shift Communication’s proposed template for a “social media release” for the world of social communications.

As part of com.motion’s launch last week, we quietly “released” our first Social Media Release (shown here). We have others in development for clients which will be released in the coming weeks. Instead of re-inventing the wheel, we tried to adapt what we saw as the best practices in the design and functionality of other pioneering Social Media Release efforts. (Our biggest tinker was to move “contact information” to the bottom of the release in an effort to improve search engine optimization.) The idea is to host a press release on the Web, but make it easier for a reporter/blogger/consumer to access the facts and quotes they are looking for, while supplementing it with multimedia tools like video and images and social media tools like social bookmarking and the ability for bloggers, reporters and/or consumers to leave comments.

As blogger and a former reporter, I believe Social Media Releases have tremendous potential to reach both groups, as well as to serve as an additional marker on the Web for consumers. It is a product we strongly recommend to clients who have big announcements and are looking to maximize coverage in the mainstream press and on blogs. As you can see from all the coverage we received over com.motion’s launch, it certainly worked for us.

mcarthur (at) veritascanada.com

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com.motion Poll – Part 1

When we launched com.motion, our new social media division, we knew we wanted to get coverage in traditional media outlets. After all, breakthrough public relations is what Veritas is known for. And indeed, we received great coverage in outlets including the National Post, Marketing Magazine, CBC Radio, CFRB and the Globe and Mail.

But we also recognized that for an offering specializing in social media marketing and online public relations, it was critical to reach out to bloggers covering the space.

Since it’s always better to experiment with your own business than your client’s, we tried something new. Ahead of our official launch date, we reached out to key social media bloggers and offered them exclusive results on one or two questions in the social media poll we commissioned to promote com.motion’s launch. A couple replied that exclusives don’t matter in the blogosphere.

But about a dozen social media bloggers have covered our launch and/or the poll results. In the coming weeks, I will be digging into some of the juicier findings in the poll. But first, I wanted to take a look at how some other bloggers have covered our launch and survey.

Kristen Nicole at Mashable looks at the finding that two-thirds of business leaders surveyed don’t want employees using social media sites at work, while 34% want employees to know their way around a social media site:

That means, spend lots of time at home getting to know your way around social media so you can impress your boss with all the creative ways you’ve found to make him more money by advertising on blogs. Hop to it.

Canuckflack says the results seem to expose senior executives lying when three-quarters of them say they’re as or more familiar than their customers:

To be fair, they could be glaringly unaware how little they know about new technology. Or, they could be underestimating the extent of their clients’ knowledge.

iAnts, a blog about digital music marketing, points out that marketers don’t appear to be putting their money where their mouths are:

The good news is that one in two business leaders say social media is becoming more important than mass media. The bad news, half of them feel that employees shouldn’t use social networking sites at work. Makes no sense to me, it’s like the blind leading the naked. How do you expect your employees to understand the medium and educate themselves if they cannot participate.

And Sean Moffitt of Buzz Canuck has some very kind – and much appreciated – words about the way we launched com.motion.

…no grandiose statements on being an unsubstantiated first, an appreciated overture to seed some of the findings of the study ahead of time with resident bloggers like myself, a double barreled insight approach from polling Canadian professionals, a nice social media-friendly PR release and consumers and what appears to be a very smart extension of Veritas’ brand into a new media space.

To view all the coverage, please check out this del.icio.us page.

mcarthur (at) veritascanada.com

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Causing a com.motion

This a very exciting day for all of us here at Veritas. Today we have formally launched com.motion, our social media division.

Our offerings include:

  • Blogger relations and blogger events
  • Online reputation management
  • Social networking campaigns (Facebook, etc).
  • Building movements online through the proprietary Grassroots Multiplier
  • Social Media Releases
  • Blogs and podcasts

As part of the launch, we worked with Pollara Strategic Insights on a survey that measured attitudes and opinions about social media marketing among business and marketing leaders as well as the general population.

I’m going to blog more about the survey results later, but here is the social media release we created for the announcement.

There is a tremendous team of people here at Veritas who made this new division possible. Thanks so much to all of them. Watch for us to cause many more com.motions in the months ahead.

mcarthur (at) veritascanada.com

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