The press release is a staple in the tool bag of most marketers and public relations professions. In use since the early 1900’s the press release has undergone some style modification, but has essentially remained the same, that is until now. Marketers are increasing using the functionality of Web 2.0 and issuing SMRs or Social Media Releases, sometimes also referred to as Social Media News Releases.
The differentiating feature of an SMR is the variety of multimedia elements that can be embedded. SMRs can contain video, photos, slideshows, graphics, even Webinars and Podcasts. The objective of the SMR is to facilitate distribution, use, and re-distribution by online target audiences such bloggers, industry websites, social media sites, online news sites and online journalists. SMRs are also being used by traditional journalists and increasingly by the investor relations community. According to a survey by Marketing Sherpa, video, photos and graphics are the most effective multimedia elements embedded in SMRs (see figure 1).
So will sexy SMRs replace the comparatively staid press release? Not likely, in my opinion. I recall when the next big thing in PR was the VNR or video news release. While VNRs have their role, they certainly did not replace the press release. SMRs will not either. The reality is marketers and public relations professionals have to cater to audiences in both traditional and social media, online and offline, technically savvy and hunt and peck writers (you new kids can look up what that last reference means) who follow your industry.
To determine which tool is best for your business you need to establish criteria and measureable metrics that make sense for your business. Many companies focus on measuring editorial mentions and follow-up queries from reporters (I use the term broadly to include journalists, bloggers, etc.) An additional criterion I recommend is to measure the number of syndications achieved. Syndication is defined as the publishing of the release on another website, usually a portal, in its entirety with all links and embedded media. While syndication is not editorial coverage, it can be extremely beneficial for your business in terms of extended distribution and exposure. The bottom line is that SMRs can be a valuable adjunct to your public relations efforts if used judiciously as part of an integrated multifaceted strategy.
Excellent video primer on SMRs can be found at: http://bit.ly/hksQHd