The Anatomy of a Social Media Release
Social Media Releases are becoming ever so popular because they offer an open and innovative way for organizations to publish news. SMRs have the ability to make news more interactive and engage the public in dialogue about an organization.
However, it is important to note that SMRs cannot replace traditional press release; they can only compliment them. As PR 2.0 industry opinion leader Brian Soils said in his blog about SMRs, “The Social Media Release is not going to miraculously fix a hyperbole-ridden, over-stated, incomprehensible document riddled with BS.” SMRs still must be relevant, factual, and purposeful.
While there is currently no standard to assembling a SMR, some best practices have evolved over the past few years. Here are some of the basic elements of a SMR broken up into “The Core” and “The Peripheral” pieces:
The importance of this is pretty obvious. As with any type of news release, the headline is your opener. It needs to be short, sweet and informative.
This paragraph pitches the overall message of your release. It needs to be carefully planned and rich in keywords to be optimized for search engines. This is one of the first areas search engines will index, so having a solid summary will ensure people will be directed to your release. (Google offers a great Keywords Tool that can help you digest what terms will serve as strong keywords.)
Use bulleted statements to summarize the supporting details of your intro. These days, people want their information fast. Quick facts can help people digest your release swiftly. Busy journalists, for example, will appreciate this simple information.
To support the facts section, use quotes that are relevant to your news. Just as in a traditional press release, quotes make stories more interesting and personal.
Since SMRs are meant to compliment traditional press release, use the text of your press release in your SMR. This will allow those who wish to dive deeper into the information a chance to truly experience your organization’s news story.
Embedding links into the body of your release will not only make it easier for readers to find more information, but it will also further optimize your release for search engines. You might even take it one step further, and include “top” links in the peripheral of your SMR.
Use the SMR as a place to share all types of media other than text. Think of SMRs as the modern day media kit, full of embedded videos, images and audio clips. Various types of content intrigue different people, so – if you have it – use it! A diverse portfolio of content surrounding a press release will improve the overall quality of your release and interest more people
If the old cliché “sharing is caring” is true, then it would be pretty thoughtless to neglect social sharing options. Giving the public the ability to share content with their social networks is the essential feature of SMRs that ultimately instigates conversation. There are dozens of ways to allow users to share content including:
- “Tweet This” (prefabricated Tweets with an @reply of your organization)
- “Post to Network” (i.e. Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, etc.)
- “Blog This” (links to popular blogging platforms)
- “Bookmark This” (links to news aggregators like Digg and Reddit or RSS readers like Google Reader and Streamy)
- “Email This” (a sometimes forgotten option to include)
- Or, use an all-in-one option like ShareThis or Disqus.
Since open, two-way communication is the goal of these releases, make sure readers can post questions or add their opinions to the page. This will engage the public and create dialogue around your release. Also, be sure to join that conversation!
Including more than just contact info and a boilerplate can get your organization additional exposure. Consider including a Twitter or RSS feed of other news that would be relevant to your audience.
There are several online applications that make assembling a Social Media Release in a snap. In fact, many online news wires now offer a SMR builder. One industry leader is Pitch Engine, which offers both free and paid options to build the perfect SMR for your organization.
Building a SMR can be very simple once all of the elements are gathered. The more pieces of The Core and The Peripheral you can include, the more social your release becomes. Just remember that despite all the extra pieces, your news still needs to be well written and relevant.
So what makes up the anatomy of your Social Media Releases? What services have you experimented with when building SMRs? Let us know!