Social Media Releases – what I like and what I’ve learned.

A lot has been said about the rise of social media press releases, so I won’t retread this topic. Net net, I’m delighted that as an industry we are now heralding the rise of press releases that a) get to the point b) provide reporters with value rather than spin and c) include grab-and-go content like video, graphics, and search optimization tools. For those just now dipping a toe into these fresh waters, the folks over at Shift Comms have an excellent blog resource on this very topic, and researched what newswire vendors offer in terms of social media. From my experience, nothing beats Marketwire . (Although – note to Marketwire: as a blogger I sure would have liked an easy “grab and go” graphic to promote your services…the video of Thom and the image of a SecondLife Tower aren't exactly helpful here ;)

But to cut to the chase, here are a five things I’ve learned over the past 12 months - specifically about social media press releases.

1) Pitching Bloggers - Although it’s been said many times many ways (Merry Christmas), I’ll say it again – before you even THINK about pitching a blogging community on news, you absolutely positively need to be an active member of that community before your announcement. Here’s what it means in practice: a) smaller set of targets – you can’t effectively be an active community member on 25 different blogs. Translation: Set client expectations. You should not be hitting 50 bloggers at once by posting comments. b) if you don’t have an opinion on what people are talking about, you better find a way to come up with something intelligent to say. This may mean deeper research into the subject, and waiting it out and listening for a few weeks. With new technologies like SezWho , comments are becoming trackable and accountable to anyone who cares to see where you’ve commented before. c) to make life easier, subscribe to the blog’s RSS feature so you’re getting fresh content feed to you, vs. going out to each of these folks one by one.

2) Choosing a vendor - Like I said before, Marketwire is the best service, hands down. I’m not sold yet on their whole “record your headline for iTunes” thing yet, but I’m getting there. For the right news/brands it makes a ton of sense, but most of the time it’s just a nifty nice-to-have. God bless ‘em for thinking outside the box.

3) Images – the images that are embedded in your release are smaller than you think. This means screen shots a bit challenging, as bloggers want to be able to drop something straight into their blog, and most of the time, web site screen shots are just too damn hard to see. Double and triple check how it appears in the size the newswire offers.

4) Video – you would be astonished at how cost effective it is create smooth video these days. Companies like TurnHere can often turn around high quality video for as little as $5k, depending on length, specs etc. For things like high profile launches, or reviewer guides, this is really money well spent.

5) It does not totally replace the need for a regular press release for all types of brands. There are still instances where a regular press release makes sense (important corporate level news if you are a publicly traded company for example). Sometime, I would love to see a real survey of top business reporters and their appetites for both types of releases… anyone know of anything?