Beyond PR

Jan 24, 2013

The Difference between Social Media News Releases & Traditional Press Releases

first mnrWhat’s the difference between a social media press release and the more traditional version?  This is one of the most common questions we receive here at PR Newswire, and the answer is simpler than you may think.

At the outset, the social media news release (SMNR) — originally conceived by Todd Defren of Shift Communications — looked pretty complex, incorporating a host of multimedia assets as well as links to related information, such as other press releases from the company and quotes from experts.    The emphasis on the format intimidated many, and frankly, continues to do so today.

The difference between the two release types, in our mind, is pretty clear.  A social media release at its most basic is easy for readers to scan, includes elements (text, multimedia, etc.) that are easy to share, and offers readers ready access to a collection of associated, relevant information.   A more traditional message lacks these features.

Easy, social-friendly formatting:

When asked about social media press releases, we like to emphasize key features that are easy for almost any PR pro to incorporate, rather than focusing on a specific format.  It’s important to do the best you can with what you have, and let’s face it, you may not have a cool video or sleek graphic for each message. Social- and traditional media friendly features all releases should all include:

  • Sharing: Make it easy for readers to share your content. Embed buttons for social sharing, blogging and other interactions within your news release pages, and be sure the vendors you use have social sharing buttons embedded in the versions of the press releases they host on their web sites for you.
  • Scannability”: As you write your release, you’ll want to be sure the text is easy for readers to scan.  Using bold subheads and bulleted lists enables readers to quickly scan the document and readily ascertain the key points. This tactic improves reader engagement. As a bonus, key pieces of text like headlines, subheads and key bullet points are often relayed on social networks.  Use bold text on your subheads, and don’t forget anchor text links, which draw the eye to key terms.
  • Links:  Embedded anchor text links, as well as links to more information, are welcomed by readers if they deliver on the promise of providing more information or an answer to a question.   The content to which you link has to be specific.  It’s of little use to your reader, for example, to link from a product name in a press release to your company’s home page.  Don’t make your reader navigate their way to the information. Serve it up on a platter.
  • Contact information: This piece of advice comes from the team that builds and maintains our MediaRoom products (we host media and IR sites for clients.) Contact information needs to be at the top of the page, in a prominent position, and it needs to include a means to reach company contacts directly. Journalists and bloggers work in tight timeframes. They appreciate having ready access to your organization’s media contacts. This is not the place for a generic “email us” form.


Now, on to the fun stuff.  Visuals are important, for a number of reasons.  In addition to attracting attention and ultimately delivering better results than plain text copy, visuals encourage social sharing, thus amplifying your message and increasing your audience.

  • Distribute & Share:  If you have a image or  video, don’t just host the video on your web site. Upload it to your company’s Facebook page, YouTube channel and other sharing sites like Vimeo, SlideShare and Flickr (yes, the last two accept video as well as images.) And don’t forget Twitter.  They just debuted Vine, a new video sharing app, today.
  • Describe:  On all the sites and pages on which your multimedia content is hosted, do be sure to surround the video with descriptive information.   When uploading it to a sharing site, be sure to give it a descriptive title, use a variety of tags, categorize it correctly and include a full description –with a link back to a related page on your web site.  Doing so will ensure the video comes up in relevant searches and is indexed correctly on the web site.

Professional help:

At a certain point, there’s only so much a brand can do to distribute and promote content, and when you reach that point, if your message needs more oomph, it’s time to seek professional  help.  Here at PR Newswire, our MultiVu team routinely produces and distributes a range of multimedia press releases as well as more the sophisticated digital content format we call the ARC.    Marrying sophisticated video distribution to dozens of web sites with a host of interactive multimedia options, these message platforms can illustrate, animate and amplify your messages is ways you’ve probably never considered.  Learn more about how we’re helping organizations everywhere engage audiences with multimedia.

Author Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of social media.



2 Comments on Blog Post Title

Malcolm Atherton 09:04 EST on Jan 31, 2013

At the end of the day there is no traditional release, multimedia release, or social media news release. There is only the “content advisory”. Whether that advisory has a layout chock full of snippets and links, videos and/or photos, or plain ‘ol paragraphs depends entirely on the purpose of the advisory, the audience, and what the brand wants the advisory to achieve.

The advisory is a blank slate – a vessel – to carry whatever content is needed to tell a story.

Media… Consumers… Both… If it is crafted with care, they will share.

Paulette Scrooby 23:52 EDT on Jun 19, 2013

Hi Sarah – thanks for that info, wondering if in your experience you can share your thought on the following? – I am a student doing a certificate in small business management in New Zealand – we are currently looking at the marketing plan in class and one of the questions that came up today (and i have been tasked with researching for our class, had me researching and landing on your page today) was – how does the actual page layout ie design layout differ from print to online media. Traditionally we are taught to follow from the left top corner through to the bottom right, and that generally the bottom left corner is kind of dead space. Yet with digital media we scroll down and so the way we read and scan is a bit different. Does this affect layout choices from print to online media ? Hope you dont mind sharing? :)Cheers Paulette

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