Social media has transformed many aspects of business communications using such tools as podcasting, video casting, online communities, and blogging. Using online distribution services and social media communities like Facebook, BeBo, Hi5, etc., the standard one-page press release of yesterday has become a more powerful tool than ever. Public relations professionals are discovering that simply faxing or emailing a one-page press release to several dozen media outlets is no longer an engaging method of propagating the client’s message.
There are three main reasons why a traditional press release has very little chance of success in the social media arena:
- The more traditional press release usually has a singular focus which is in turn completely focused on the company issuing the release.
- The more traditional press release usually contains marketing language that inherently raises questionable levels of trust in the eyes of the social media audience.
- The more traditional press release also does not, usually, have a specific audience in mind and is written in a very broad and bland way. The word “boring” comes to mind!
It is important to realize that change happens slower than many of us would like. The traditional press release will remain a staple for two to three more years. But the ever-growing social — web centric business audience that has taken up residence in places like Facebook and Twitter – do not pretend to like overt and aggressive sales and marketing dribble.
It is also important to note that there is a move to put the public back in public relations. Using such social media tools as Twitter, organizations and individuals are learning how to reach a new generation of influencers using these platforms like Facebook and Twitter. The press release to today can and should engage and spark a “conversation” between the company issuing the release and the targeted audience. In addition, press releases can supplement online blogging activities as well as multimedia communications without sacrificing any traditional media tactics. By using a “hub and spoke model”, public relations professionals are using blogs and community websites as a focal point for their product, their service, or a specific event. Coupled with a blog, public relation professionals are tweeting their message from this blog or website focal point, and engaging their targeted public in a much more focused and effective manner. Finally it is important to realize that the foundation of a press release is the actual writing behind the product or service or event. And so we seen a change in writing styles emerging because of social media. Today, public relation professionals must create a press release title or headline for multiple types of readers and not simply a singular focused general headline. There are three basic kinds of readers looking at content today:
Normal-Regular Readers — These types of readers do not need any exciting or strange headlines to read your material. They want to be engaged and treated with a level of respect that is reflected in your writing. They want to make sure that your headline matches the content of your article and that it is relevant to them.
Search Engines-Oriented Readers – When writing a headline for a search engine your goal is to attain a top ranking based on a particular query. Search engine-oriented headlines must not exceed 80 characters. You must also inserts two or three of your articles keywords into the headline since the search engine is not only looking at the headline but looking at your websites keywords or meta-tags. And make sure that your article, assuming that it is longer than a half of a page, has sub headings and follow the rules of writing indicated above.
Social Media/Community-oriented Readers — When writing a headline for social media traffic you must consider that the readers in this category are looking for some sort of incentive to click onto your site and look at your products or service or event. Readers need to be given a reason to read posts your material, if it is engaging and provocative it will be reposted.
In today’s fast-paced world press releases must take on a new persona and transform themselves so that they can become a normal and regular communications vehicle for social media and the web collectively.