Thursday, January 18, 2007

Socially Immature Press Release

I became aware of the Social Media Press Release or Press Release 2.0 when SHIFT Communication’s Todd Defren created a template and I began following the movement. However, I have to admit I have been skeptical of the impact.

But this week I attended Third Thursday in San Francisco and while I haven’t changed my mind wholeheartedly, I do see current and potential benefits.

However, it’s more about leveraging components of SMPR rather than following a template or formatting a release differently. With a press release and Yahoo! And Google news searches, you can direct consumers to your release but with the addition of video, graphics and other SMPR features, you can keep the interest of your consumer and make the sale by directing a reader to your e-commerce site. RSS extends that capability and will lead your reader back to your site. You can also leverage track backs to determine where certain leads come from. For consumer products, it would be nice venue for the release of a iPhone, for example but for enterprises vendors, I don’t really see it leading to anything significant at this time. I’m open to being convinced otherwise.

For journalists, I find the SMPR insulting. I realize there are journalists who are “slackers” and do the “copy and paste” job, which provides no analysis but those aren’t the journalists you want to target. They may find the SMPR template release even easier to use but I’ll have to agree with Tom Foremski that real journalists will still want to take the time to speak with your executives to get additional insight and a unique perspective. But for bloggers who don’t take a neutral and objective perspective, they will do what they want.

Web 2.0 encourages a free flowing conversation. SMPRs help extend a conversation by providing more information or more organized information to different audiences but SMPRs are still merely consumerized press releases. Even if you encourage comments, any negative comments are moderated and a real view of feedback is not provided. However, what’s to stop a competitor or someone with a grudge to post a biased opinion. So isn’t a moderated feedback system the best method? I don’t know the answer to that.

I also agree with Stowe Boyd that SMPRs doesn’t make a press release more honest. Traditional and social media press releases both incorporate marketing jargon and quotes from executives that the PR/marketing leg of the company approves, most of the time without the executive ever seeing the release. On the other hand, companies have key messages and as long as it falls in line, why would an executive have a problem? Nobody ever complains that the president is reading a written speech? As the president relies on his trusted advisors, for better or worse, isn’t a company in the same situation?

There was also a guy from BusinessWire there pumping in how the newswire helps those pushing SMPRs (a sales pitch – how’d he get on the panel?). But a link in the “old school” release that directs readers back to the site for the SMPR version should suffice.

I agree with the panelists [Tom Foremski (of Silicon Valley Watcher), Brian Solis (of FutureWorks PR and PR 2.0), Shel Holtz (of Crayon and A Shel of My Former Self) and Chris Heuer (of Social Media Club and Idea Engine) that only time will tell how this will look at the other end of the tunnel. But for now, the debate continues.


PR-Guy said...

Agreed - it's too early to form a judgment on the benefits and adoption. Agreed, too, that the SMNR does NOT do much to solve the perennial issue of crappy PR practices.

For me it's about democratizing access to all content for all potential audiences (journos, bloggers, laypeople), and creating spaces for conversation to happen.

Becky said...

There was also a guy from BusinessWire there pumping in how the newswire helps those pushing SMPRs (a sales pitch – how’d he get on the panel?).

When you figure it out, let me know. I can't tell you how many "educational" seminars have been ruined by sales pitches from companies that stand to make a buck off the new media revolution.

Ultimately, I think the SMNR will work for some and not others; something that is probably true of many of our clients' technologies. I think my biggest gripe about the SMNR is the one-size-fits-all mentality that I've seen pushed; that and the fact that some people seem to think it's going to save PR.