Social Media Press Release Evolves Slowly, but Nicely

Maggie Fox recently sent me an email to talk about the new Social Media Press Release format she has been working on with Ford that she is now releasing as a template they call Digital Snippets.  You can download the PDF to review for yourself.  Overall I think it is a good step in the right direction.  As I said to Maggie in an email discussing this, it feels a bit too densely packed and could use some more white space and simplification, but it is otherwise good and evolving nicely.

Jason Falls make a good point about including the context of the whole conversation around the news being published which is well taken, but I doubt we will see a full and proper execution from any large publicly traded company for some time like he envisions to include all things people write about the news.  Perhaps in smaller companies and startups where they don’t have to fight all those lawyers and ‘not how things are done around here’ attitudes.  Definitely not in a company where there is a boisterous and dare I say potential for negative feedback on any given number of issues by ongoing opposition. I am particularly thinking about labor, cafe standards, general haters of the brand and consumer safety folks who might take any opportunity to swipe at the company they could.

While I would like the SMPR to include link backs to all the people talking about the news, there are some situations and some companies which are simply not going to be treated fairly.  This is one of the reasons GM was not enabling comments on their blog post on Fast Lane during labor negotiations that were ongoing during the strike in the fall (Shel Holtz has an excellent post on Blogging in a Strike).  They were right then, and I think Ford was right in this situation.  It could have been included on these releases if someone were to manually approve them as being relevant, but that approval process must include negative reviews as well as positive ones to have any credibility.

My only real issue here is that I am troubled by yet another attempt to rebrand the format with new terminology – especially since we have fought so hard to generate understanding around the SMPR language.  Why does everyone need to ‘own the language’ when building on top of someone else’s work? From my perspective, it is another template that may be used to do Social Media Press Releases in the same spirit that Todd Defren originally created it after speaking with Tom Foremski. Social Media Group certainly is accrediting Todd properly, but I don’t see why we would call these digital snippets – perhaps I am just missing the point of why they are different…

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  1. #1 by maggie fox - January 22nd, 2008 at 14:16

    Hey Chris – thanks for your feedback, again! And a quick note of clarification – Digital Snippets is the brand name under which we’re marketing the platform/webservice that we’re offering, but at it’s core it’s an SMPR/SMNR in the spirit of the concept as introduced by Shift.

    Sorry if that wasn’t clear!

  2. #2 by Jason Falls - January 22nd, 2008 at 14:34

    Chris — Great points, particularly in reference to my post. Big brands are hard to harness and push toward meaningful participation. I applaud Maggie and crew for the evolution and only hope to pursue the discussion further so the next generation of SMR/SMNR efforts holds on to that valuable nugget of meantinful connection … context. Thanks for pointing my way!

  3. #3 by Don Lafferty - January 22nd, 2008 at 15:43

    I struggle with this issue even within the confines of my company where all I want to do is message via an internal blog.

    The MARCOM and legal departments of public companies in SOME market sectors have become uber sensitive to ANYTHING that even remotely smacks of negativity in a market where every dime of shareholder value comes like a yard of real estate on Hamburger Hill.

    The informality associated with blogging as a discipline makes backtracking and shedding honest light on discussion hazardous to a CEO’s bonus structure.

  4. #4 by Brian Solis - January 24th, 2008 at 04:08

    Hi Chris, here’s the comment I am leaving for you and Jason…

    Social media releases, to me, expand the discussion beyond form versus function and forces us to examine why we need to explore additional options and what we can bring to the table in return.

    One thing to think about in any discussion related to traditional or social media releases is that stats show that good releases ARE the central point of “conversations” and more importantly, a catalyst for “action” courtesy of search engines.

    In the tech world, numbers show as much as 51% of IT professionals discover news and information from press releases found in Google or Yahoo over trade journals. That’s pretty compelling…and it’s the activity and discussions inside the bubble that keep a level playing field in order for it to effectively influence the rest of the industry.

    With stats like that, it starts to show you several things…1. Press releases are far from dead. 2. One press release doesn’t serve everyone. 3. There are now press releases for journalists and bloggers as well as story-based releases directly for customers.

    And, when you break it down, as of now, there are search engines that comb through traditional HTML web sites and there are search engines that monitor blogs, wikis, and other forms of social media.

    If customers are searching for information, make sure you have a social and traditional strategy in place and think about the content, context and building the social bridges that reach them. You might write for them differently than you would for media and you should consider utilizing all forms of releases available to you. After all, one message doesn’t fit all…

    Maggie’s keeping the discussion going…if anything, we should consider that “social” in the social media release implies conversation…whether hosted internally or externally. An SMR is an ideal beacon for all of those conversations and can serve as a hub for flourishing thoughts, ideas, and opportunities for customer service and also a magnifying glass into the dialog within their online communities.

    At the end of the day, take from all of this what applies and matters to the people you’re trying to reach – media, bloggers, and customers. None of these options are magic bullets. You have to do your homework and reverse engineer the distribution channels that reach them, understand what they need, and why they should listen to you, and in turn, share information within their own social networks.

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