But, as I’ve been awestruck by the adoption of the first template by some Big Brands, gratified by the response of the wire services, and energized by the many debates surrounding the SMR, I’ve learned some lessons that could inspire a fresh look at the original version.
Version 1.5 of the Social Media Release (download it here) has several purposes:
To further atomize the content: note that each of the substantive chunks of content (e.g., the core news, the different multimedia elements) are now shareable on an individual basis, empowering people to borrow liberally from its diverse content, for their own purposes. You like the SMR’s embedded video; you want to embed it on your own blog, but feel no compunction to link to the SMR as the original source? You want to cite the “core news” without the multimedia sizzle? Now you can. Slice & dice, splice & remix. The newsmaker’s content becomes yours to play with however you like.
To highlight the importance of engagement: note that Version 1.5 includes a permalink to the newsmaker’s online newsroom, which should be powered by a blogging engine to enable moderated comments and trackbacks. While a handful of wire services either already enable comments (or plan to), honestly the best place for folks to discuss the news is at the newsmaker’s own site, which is not only an “official” spot for conversation but also serves to aggregate any directly-related posts via the trackbacks/pingbacks (a.k.a. “blogs that link to this news”).
To emphasize flexibility: perhaps the biggest complaint about Version 1.0 of the SMR was the suggested use of bulleted text, versus the traditional narrative format of traditional releases … while I still prefer bullets, it’s totally fine to stick with the narrative approach if you can incorporate the much-more-important components of interaction and shareable media. Remember, this is merely a template: discard any elements that don’t work for you!
To account for technology changes: the universal “Share This” widget (many variations exist) are great ways to allow end-users to post/share information in their preferred format. In addition, since the publication of Version 1.0, we’ve seen services like Twitter and Facebook make a big impact on the social networking scene. While such socnet stars are only beginning to achieve true mainstream adoption, it’s cool to envision a day when we could not only read an executive spokesperson’s official quote, but also have the option of following them via their twitterstream or personal blog.
Additionally, the inclusion of an OPML feed allows the reader to instantly subscribe to all of a company’s official blogs. (Per the Blog Council: “What do you do when hundreds or thousands of your employees have personal blogs?” – at least one answer is: make it easy to find & track them all!)
To provide greater context: it’s one thing to offer trackbacks, since those links clearly are relevant to the news release. But to provide even more value to the reader – especially to writers who may want to draft a big article or blog post – why not offer a “Sphere It” link? Sphere offers readers a chance to look at related news from the blogosphere and mainstream news sources.
To tighten things up: another challenge for Version 1.0 was seeing some companies overdo it in terms of “relevant links” … Thus, in part in homage to the scalpel-sharp editing enforced by services like Twitter, I’m suggesting the optional inclusion of “3 Links That Matter” to give readers more info, context, etc. If you only get 3 links, you’ll be forced to make ‘em good links, eh?
Note that part of the concept here is to show how a SMR might be displayed within a corporate newsroom. But it’s a 1–page template, folks: for example, I am not suggesting that moderated comments scroll alongside the right-hand nav-bar: items like Comments and Trackbacks likely ought to be tucked under the main SMR content.
As always, this template is offered for free to the community. No copyright b.s. “Hat-tips” are nice but not necessary. Make it your own.
Hope ya’ll like Version 1.5 of the SMR. I am submitting it to the IABC working group for their consideration. Meanwhile, you can contact me directly, or via the comments below, with your feedback! Or, grab me at NewComm Forum next week to discuss. Meanwhile I’ll do my best to track any reactions on our del.icio.us page.
Posted on: April 18, 2008 at 1:58 pm By Todd Defren