I’d like to believe that my current state of tiredness, due to an accumulated three week sleep debt, is the reason why I’m confused, but if I’m honest (which I do try to be), I’ve never been able to get my head around the social media press release (SMPR). Not in terms of who it is for, how it is distributed and how it differs from a social media press room.
I know the SMPR was initially inspired by Tom Foremski requesting the instant demise of the traditional press release in May 2006, subtly titled ‘Die Press Release! Die! Die! Die!‘
In the post, Foremski claimed:
Press releases are nearly useless. They typically start with a tremendous amount of top-spin, they contain pat-on-the-back phrases and meaningless quotes. Often they will contain quotes from C-level executives praising their customer focus. They often contain praise from analysts, (who are almost always paid or have a customer relationship.)
Press releases are created by committees, edited by lawyers, and then sent out at great expense through Businesswire or PRnewswire to reach the digital and physical trash bins of tens of thousands of journalists.
Which is fair enough comment. A lot of press releases contain way too much hyperbole or unsupportable claims to be the world’s leading whatever. Much like our pitching to bloggers , press releases can stand more than a little improvement too. Foremski went on to make some suggested improvements, though mainly in terms of format when he really seemed most bothered about the poor standard of content. Shift Communications picked up and ran with this and lo, the social media press release was born.
I knowthis was all a while ago but SMPRs have been top of mind recently as I’ve been talking to a couple of suppliers about them, also Shift itself has been bigging up its platform over the past few days too and yet I’m still confused.
Who is it for? Not journalists surely? If I had a pound for the amount of times I’ve been told that journos only like press release in plain text emails with no attachments, well then I’d have some pounds. I realise this nugget of advice might only be relevant to UK journalists, but I really would rather stab myself in the eye with a spork than send out a multimedia heavy email without prior clearance to them.
It can’t be for bloggers. I’ve spoken to a fair few of them and they seem to like personalised emails with lots of links directing them to where they can find lots of relevant information or goodies. I think it makes them feel more independent on sourcing the material themselves. Plus even with the vast amount of storage available for email accounts, who wants maa-hoosive attachments?
How do you distribute it? This always puzzled me, but I always refrained from asking as I didn’t want to appear stupid, but it seems from the companies I’ve spoken recently that they send out a plain text version via various wires with links to where the SMPR is hosted online. Which is what I suspected happened all along, and means that the SMPR is most likely still created by committee, edited by lawyers and sent out at great expense over the wires. Actually make that greater expense as it seems a premium is charged for sending out SMPRS compared to your usual text version.
So to me it seems that an SMPR is a dedicated webpage, usually hosted on a third parties’ domain, where the the body of a press release is chunked down into easier-to-cut-and-paste segments and bullet points, with lots of easy to download images and videos, along with the usual plethora of social sharing/bookmarking buttons.
That’s not a better press release, that is a tricked up online newsroom or social media newsroom if you like, that’s taking potential traffic away from your site to someone elses, while you are paying them for the privilege.
Most unusually for me, I’m sure I’m wrong on this, I’m sure I’m missing a trick so please, if you can, tell me how they differ.