To succeed, the “social media press release” must focus more on content than Web bling.
Catherine Marenghi, senior PR manager at Cognizant Technology Solutions (a client of mine) read my recent post asking if it’s “Time to Kill the Press Release?” because it’s too stilted and vendor-focused, and asked what I thought of the Social Media Press Release (SMPR) template.
My first thought was that a “Social Media Press Release Template” makes about as much sense as a mahogany console for an iPhone. On second thought, my first thought was right.
The template looks like a gussied-up version of the traditional press release. The key innovations, if you can call them that, are a link and RSS feed to a purpose-built del.icio.us page with hyperlinks to “relevant historical, trend, market, product & competitive content sources…context as-needed, and, on-going updates” as well as blank spots for photos, videos, podcasts, etc.” There’s nothing here that couldn’t be done as well, or better, by a well-done blog post, Webinar, white paper, etc. with similar links.
The central problem is that this “Social Media Press Release” is still all about the vendor, which is why it doesn’t work in today’s world of “two-way” conversations among customers and vendors. As I argue in my post, the people you need to reach – prospects and customers – want far more candor, insight and context than you can deliver in a press release that’s been scrubbed of all three by PR, legal and marketing.
The fact that press releases focus on naval-gazing is probably why they’re often read first and foremost by competitors. And why not, since they focus on tweaks in management, distribution, product wins, sales or product features in terms that are more critical to competitors than customers? Only problem is that you’re spending money and time to feed your competitors info.
Similarly well-intentioned advice I’ve seen more recently makes the same mistake, describing how to do Web-friendly things like optimizing the press release for search engines, and adding multimedia and tags. Nothing about the core of the press release – what it says!
If you must write sterile press releases, go ahead, and if you want to Web-optimize, that’s probably a good idea. But focus your efforts, and your spending, on content that explains why the reader – the prospect – should care about what you’re doing.