Social Media Releases: An Introduction
There has been ongoing coverage regarding Social Media Releases (also known as “Social Media Press Releases” or “New Media Releases”) and with much debate over its merits and even more existential questions of why press releases even still exist.
Stowe Boy gives a rough (and somewhat cynical) description of SMR and asks one of the common question critics ask about SMR:
For those who have missed the idea, a social media press release is supposed to be a webbish/bloggish version of old timey press releases. These will incorporate elements of the now commonplance blog motif: links, tags, comments, and trackbacks, for example.
This all begs the question (which I raised early on in the evening): Why not just use blogs? Why do we need these so-called “social” press releases?
Brian Solis, a SMR supporter, goes further and reminds us of the qualitative goals of SMR:
The IDEA is to strip out all of the bullshit and hype from traditional mechanical, and useless press releases and rebuild it as a focused compilation of relevant facts, links, media and a subscription feed to help readers write, tell, and share a story their way (without having to sort through a sea of crap to find out what’s real, what’s canned, and what’s important.) This is what a good release should be anyway, regardless of trends and titles. Basically itâ€™s the press release redux. It takes out whatâ€™s wrong with press releases and modernizes them into a usable format for journalists, bloggers, and individuals.
See an example of an Edelman Social Media Release in action here.
Todd Defren, principal at SHIFT Communications, was an early proponent (early/mid 2006) of the Social Media Release, followed quickly by Edelman in late 2006 with the release of StoryCrafter (a CMS for making SMRs). Chris Heuer, Brian Solis and others have been promoting a more open approach to Social Media Releases, including the use of the microformat hRelease.
Where’s the Metrics to Prove/Disprove SMR?
What I find curious about the whole debate over the merits of SMR is the lack of discussions regarding any data: Let’s Gather Some Engagement Metrics.
- How many people actually add a Social Media Release to Del.icio.us? Or Digg it?
- How many people clicked on the SMR Pictures or Media Section?
- How many people left comments on comment-enabled SMR?
- What does Technorati/Google tells us regarding track/backlinks for SMR? Are the numbers any different than the average “Old School” Press Release?
These are just the few metrics that should be readily available to any SMR ever released. Let’s see how much of the “social” aspects of SMR are being used by people.
As for qualitative aspect of SMR that Brian Solis has described, this is difficult to measure and indeed an aspect that can be applied to traditional Press Releases as well (as he has said himself). We can’t measure that, but if we find no one is using the new features of SMR (Del.icio.us, Media Links, Comments etc), this may cast some doubt over its effectiveness over traditional Press Releases.
Of course, the cynics will look at SMR as simply a Press Release with “Social Media Optimization” or simply “a bloggish Press Release”. But, I believe that SMR is a required evolution of the traditional Press Releases – for it to remain relevant and engaging to the public at large. And for that, Brian Solis, Chris Heuer, Todd Deffren and others are doing a great job in helping promote SMR and advance online PR.
I don’t believe in discounting SMR, but the question that Stowe Boyd asks “Why not just use blogs” is an important question to address. Maybe the answer depends on how the client wants to be positioned: fully open and cutting edge via blogs or partially open and more “traditional” via SMR?
But in any case, intelligent debate can only be done with evidence and data. Other wise, this debate is simply a mental/philosophical exercise. I’m a supporter of SMR, but if we want to debate SMR constructively let’s try to have some data to base our arguments.
So who is going to release the first report on the number of SMR Diggs, Del.icio.us and Trackbacks? Edelman? The SocialMediaRelease.org? Or maybe their critics like Strumpette?
Todd Defren has issued a “Quick Progress Report” on the early successes of SMR. Perhaps we need to follow-up with more data?
- SHIFT Communications: “Social Media Press Release” Template
- Brian Solis: “Enough Already: Getting the Social Media Release All Wrong“
- PR Squared: “The Social Media News Release: A Quick Progress Report“
- Social Media Release
- Steve Edelman: “Edelman Debuts StoryCrafter Two-Way Press Release“
- Strumpette: “Mega PR Firm Releases “StoryMakerUpper 1.0“
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