One Man's Social Media Release Experiments

IStock_000002646994XSmallSince this week’s earlier post was so brief, I hope ya’ll don’t mind a beefier post today.

I’ve made only very minor edits to the text below, which was left as a comment to the “Battle Royale” post of last week.  It spells out the Social Media Release experiments of Steve Kayser of Cincom Systems, and blogger at Riffs, Tiffs & What Ifs.  

Where I felt the need to weigh-in and respond below, I do so <in a field like this one>.

Heeeeeere’s Steve Kayser:

Been experimenting with SMR’s fairly aggressively. Five releases in the last couple months. Commented about some of the issues on Brian Solis’ blog.

Brian’s post covers a lot of issues we’re trying to figure out – tracking, measurement, value, downstream display, etc. Building data, getting comments and feedback. No problem with moderated comments here. I find the comments valuable and helpful. If, and when, I get the occasional “Richard Cranium” who blasts or attacks our company – no problem. It’s a very small minority. If you have thin skin, probably not the way to go.

<I advocate for moderated comments: the idea is to open up to dialogue and – at worst – constructive critiques; I do not think it’s in a company’s best interest to allow contentious, harsh, unfair conversations in their official forum.>

<Done right, ideally, a company that opens itself up in this type of moderated forum will minimize a consumer’s desire to vent more angrily somewhere else, because they feel like they haven’t been heard by the heretofore “faceless” corporation.>


Had the opportunity to use two SMR’s in an event we hosted. A major college MBA Business Plan Competition with 14 colleges (sorta like the NCAA tourney). The release content was not great … but functional. Since the opportunity was there, we decided to push the limits for the multimedia portion of one of the news release.

1st Release

The announcement of the contest topped around 6,300 links in the first 24 hrs as tracked in the Marketwire PRstats™ – described as “the current number of locations this press release listed in.” One of our earlier SMR’s topped 19,000 links… bloggers drove that.

Question is, what value do you attribute to that number? How do you get your arms around it to measure and analyze? It’s impressive looking. No doubt. And it’s dynamic. Changes every hour. But eventually we need to translate that into some action that moves the value needle. For us, in the complex B2B sales environment, that means moves the buyer committees, media or analysts to action. The trifecta would be all three.

<Amen.  For my part, I see an intrinsic value to those links, as it speaks to the overall # of “seeds” of the news across the web.  BUT, I think companies should care far more for actual “coverage,” i.e., not just links to releases but original writing/analysis based on the news release.>

Both releases were displayed on CNN,CNBC, MSNBC and all that – but they mangle the display and formatting. Which negates the value and utility. Why do it if it gets trashed? That’s what testing is for though. To see what happens and how best to deal with it. Right now I know one thing. You control the display of the release only on your own site. Or your distribution vendor’s site. If you can get them to display it the way you create it. Although I will say Yahoo does a pretty good job of displaying some of the multi-media elements.

<I agree with this; the “downstream issue” is troubling.  That’s why we often advocate putting out a release that points to a “social media version” on the corporate website.> 

<I’ve also had wire service reps suggest doing an SEM campaign for an SMR – as Shannon Whitley suggested with his brilliant NewsAds concept – such that the SMR becomes a “landing-page” for the news, where all the traffic can be directed and subsequently analyzed.  It’s an interesting idea.>

2nd Release

The announcement of the winners was where we pushed the multimedia envelope. Interspersed pictures of the winners with actual video interviews of the winners – which had been shot prior to the competition.

Announcement of Winners on Marketwire.   It displays much better on PRXBUILDER.

Response was good. From the colleges, the competitors, web readers, emails – etc. All that stuff. But what surprised me most was the intense interest from professors, Venture Cap folks, bankers and judges pulling me aside, asking about the concept, the distribution, the ‘How does it work?’ kind of questions you get. Actually, at one point (we had releases displayed hard copy and live on a news board so the teams could see) I had several people lined up – like a tour guide.

Good test – but no media inquiries.

<Glad to see so much interest in the concept, but, hopefully the SMR format did not distract from your news!>

<More importantly, as any good SMR advocate will tell you, we’re never surprised when a release – of any type – does not generate media inquiries.  Putting out a release is not a substitute for good ol’ fashioned Media Relations … With an average of THREE THOUSAND releases on the wires each day, you’d need to announce the Cure for Cancer to get inbound inquiries off a press release.>

<The rest of Steve’s comments, including well-deserved praise for PRXBuilder can be found here.>

Special thanks to Steve for his thorough write-up!  I applaud his willingness to experiment.  More to come on this front, folks!

Posted on: March 12, 2008 at 3:29 pm By Todd Defren
2 Responses to “One Man's Social Media Release Experiments”


  • Todd,

    In regards to our meeting yesterday, our first venture with Strategic Web Placement (SEM) was last May and resulted in almost 700,000 impressions for only $250. Since then, some campaigns we’ve worked on have allotted more cash which have resulted in far more impressions (over 2 million) and click-throughs.

    While the downstream issue isn’t going away, our strategy avoids display problems by redirecting traffic to the Campaign HQ, our MNR. We believe that by distributing the link to the thousands of points, enabling social bookmarking, in-MNR commenting, linking to blog conversations, etc., the variety of use is becoming quite impressive (IMHO).

    As to previous conversations, one shiny MNR doesn’t replace media relations, quality content, blogger outreach, etc.

    As discussed, I will work on putting together a “Tip Sheet” for PR professionals that prompt the questions they should be asking before finalizing (or designing) campaigns/announcements.

    I look forward to more conversations like yesterday’s!


  • Hi Todd,

    Thanks for continuing to share your, and others’, experiences. I’ve been dipping a toe in the SMNR waters by blogging our news announcements with illustrations, “more info” mouseovers and stuff.

    I had some great feedback from contacts old and news, traditional media and bloggers alike. But I also got flamed by one commenter – not specifically on the release format per se, but saying things like “What a paradigm of Web 2.0 vapourware” and “You put a link saying ‘more information’ but then you only provide another 4 lines worth of additional text”. To me, this is still a news release rather than a full product specification – and that’s 4 lines of additional description you didn’t get in a traditional press release format, buddy! (and for the record let me note that there are 4 or 5 of these “more info” options in the pseudo-SMNRs I have put together so overall you’re getting quite a lot more information than you otherwise would have been able to glean).

    I guess I’m saying that I continue to be surprised by the antagonism that some have towards the SMNR concept. Sure, everyone’s going to have a preference about whether or not comments are moderated, say, but overall: where’s the harm?

    All the best,


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