Top 5 Principles of the Social Media News Release

I’ve continued to think about the Social Media News Release, and I think I’ve pinpointed 5 core principles required for these new media versions of the 100-year old document.

  • Democratize "Access" – The content (words, multimedia, links) need to be available to all comers. We cannot set up artificial barriers (i.e., "thou shalt present journalist credentials in order to download official jpegs of our logo").
  • Ensure "Accuracy" – First off, given the electronic (and thus easily transfigured) nature of the Social Media News Release, we need to be thinking about some sort of "trustmark" scheme. Just as importantly, corporations need to see the benefit of providing "official" versions of their logos, graphics, and other multimedia, for use and re-use by all media types.
  • Embrace "Context" – In the old days, you’d never clue a reporter to the assorted articles that had already been written about a client. Nowadays, you’re a clod if you think they won’t find these articles via a quick Google search, so, why not make the reporter’s job easier by proactively providing links to industry-related research and yes, even to "competitive" articles (via, for example, where you can also append your own notes about each article)?
  • Build "Community" – We need to make it easy for anyone who views the Social Media News Release to: comment on its content; re-mix its multimedia elements for use in blogs, on YouTube, and in the online versions of traditional print publications; bookmark it using Social Media tools, etc. We also need to track this response (T’rati tags, Sphere, etc.) and show a willingness to respond — openly, and, as appropriate.
  • Be "Findable" – Borrowing from Bhargava’s ideas for Social Media Optimization and with a hat-tip to the wire services’ increasing understanding of the importance of "search optimized" news, all I need to add here is the reminder that even the NY TIMES has considered how to run headlines that would make their content more readily "found" by the search engines. If the Gray Lady worries about Google, so should we all.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Anything I’ve forgotten? Anything else I ought to incorporate into my thinking about the "core principles" of the next-gen news release?

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Posted on: September 7, 2006 at 11:13 am By Todd Defren
8 Responses to “Top 5 Principles of the Social Media News Release”


  • Phil Wolff says:

    Great post.

    I don’t know if you find this a little techie but part of the new media release is sharing structured data. Either as a document or database query, or as a stream of structured data.


    For structured data in document form, imagine an airline’s site generating a spreadsheet or xml file of statistics about each aircraft in its fleet, on demand, with the number of miles flown, number of passenger-miles carried, hours since last oil change, on-time record. All data automatically updated by maintenance and other internal databases. So when you’re writing about the interview you had on the plane, or the plane crash, or are analyzing safety data across craft of the same type, you’ve put the latest and best data at the reporter’s fingertips. The same data PR people would ordinarily spend days or weeks coaxing from internal line and IT staff. Instead, the reporter asks your web form for data, and is promptly served with hard, fresh numbers.

    For a stream, look at with its RSS feed of data points updated every few minutes [1] showing the latest number of user accounts, cumulative downloads, and online Skype users as of each post. Various folks subscribed to that feed, turned it into web charts, set alerts for when critical milestones were approaching (like the 100 millionth download), and used the latest, publicly available stats in narrative stories (“7,031,314 people were online as Skype announced a new partership with…”) without waiting 48 hours for PR people to cycle the questions. Imagine if Skype had a form which said “email me when the number of simultaneous users crosses this number for the first time: (insert your own number here)” or “email me with stats as of 7am, Eastern, on Monday.”

    I don’t know if you call this multimedia, but they’re really not “media assets” in the “media asset management” sense. They are windows into an enterprise’s data pulse. And part of the publicity toolkit.


  • Kami Huyse says:

    “Just as importantly, corporations need to see the benefit of providing “official” versions of their logos, graphics, and other multimedia, for use and re-use by all media types.”

    I think this point is so important that it may need to be broken out. In today’s media, the art is crtical. As a trade editor I hate, hate, hate having to jump through hoops (point #1) and search in six fdifferent palces in teh media room to find what I need. I want it all in one place, and I want choices, don’t just give me a one-sized-fits-all photo.

    I also think that modularity is important, meaning that you can easily add or subtract any of the elements of the format.

    I also believe the SMNR concept should be extended to the Media Room. I keep meaning to post about this but time keeps getting in my way.

  • Todd Defren says:

    Hmm, great comments, lots to think about now…

    Nellie, I am fascinated by your experience with PRWeb. I’ve experienced similar pushback from BW and PRN. Who knew that “bullets” would be so much harder than a string of hyperbolic narrative? ;)

    Tom/Jeffrey – I agree with your points. I noted in the post that we’ll need some sort of “trustmark” (i.e., some way to ascertain the official source of the content), but that techie aspect is beyond my ken.

    As for errors and some sort of global search-and-replace: seems ideal but tough to make happen. Another technological point that bears discussion and the input of brainiacs.

    Jeffrey, I’d like to think that a Creative Commons license would be enough, since the infrastructure is in place. Not sure if it would do the trick in all cases, though…

    Ultimately if the company that issues the release does not use some sort of Digital Rights Management solution, my hunch is that they’ll have to cross their fingers that the content will not be abused. Sometimes they’ll bet wrong. Sometimes they’ll be happily surprised.

    Isn’t that the beauty of this Social Media era?

  • I completely agree with Tom. Transparency (which would cover sourcing and reflect changes) is perhaps more important than accuracy. It is a given that we should be throrough and honest with all of our work, but since some material is subjective and contentious, I think being able to link information to its source is crucial.

    This also has implications for your “community” aspect. Though I agree the material should be available for re-use by others, there should be some way (maybe just a CC license), to ensure that content isn’t misrepresented. That is not to say others can’t form their own opinion or create their own context, but that attribution is protected.

  • Tom Foremski says:

    Sourcing: is very important and that means there has to be a way of authenticating the source.

    Changes: If there is an error in the source material there should be a way to be able reflect across the entire number of users…

  • Nellie Lide says:

    those are good points – i just did a version of smpr for Chevy’s new super bowl college ad challenge – here’s the release -
    I do have to tell you that I used your template and got a call from PR Web asking if I was using the SHIFT Communciations release – and I said yes, and they said they did not run the content in bullets but the old fashioned way – so I said fine. I was in a rush and never asked why – but I will. Thanks, Nellie

  • Todd Defren says:

    Good addition! Thanks, Brian.

  • Brian Solis says:

    Todd, excellent post. I’d like to add an oldie but a goodie for SMPRs, Write “intelligently,” “eliminate” the hyperbole, and be “informed” – leave the spin to the reporter.

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