Giving Press Releases New Legs

Aug 01, 2011

Shaking off its dead tree past, today's reinvented press release is packed with a number of social media elements that make it much more interactive, or as the digital evangelists would say, more "viral ready."

Readers accustomed to posting their opinions in blogs, on Facebook, Google+, and the like can now do the same on social media-enabled press releases, which sport their own "comments" sections—right on the release.

Info junkies, who regularly bookmark and share interesting news and other items on the dozens of social bookmarking sites such as Digg, StumbleUpon, Reddit, and dozens of others, are given tools with a social media-enabled press release that enable them to quickly bookmark the release with a service of their choice.

Free online media tools like "AddThis"—just look for the white plus sign, surrounded by orange—to enable you to simultaneously offer links to dozens of social bookmarking services
And bloggers, who thrive on arcane tools like "permalinks" and "trackbacks" to make it easier for the blogosphere to seamlessly discuss breaking news, are pleasantly surprised to find that social media-enabled press releases have these tools built in.

Arch Biopartners' recent press release on hiring a new investment relations firm, for example, offers social media-conversant readers the ability to report the news to more than 300 news-sharing services, as well as a handy button they can click to spread the word even further on Twitter. Aptalis offers similar social media enhancements on a recent press release.

Pfizer and PRWeb bring social media enhancements a step further by offering videos, a handy RSS News Feed signup, and countless sharing tools, from Twitter and Linkedin to Digg and Delicious.

"There has been a sea change in how the press release is viewed and utilized," says Paolina Milana, executive vice president, global marketing, at Marketwire. "The once 400-word all-text release has evolved into an interactive tool that incorporates multimedia elements, social media tags and bookmarks, in-release performance stats, and feedback mechanisms."

Brian Solis, principal at Altimeter Group, a new media advisory firm, agrees: "It's something that combines the best of traditional [press releases]and new and social media, and helps package a story in a way that works for different writers and users."

You can hire Marketwire, PRWeb, or a similar firm to create your own Web 2.0-enabled press release. Or you can simply put one together yourself. Here are the key elements you'll want included:

Comments Capability: Enabling readers to post comments on your press release—the same way they post comments on a blog—can give the announcement more legs. A journalist or blogger who posts a comment on your release, for example, may in turn attract other journalists, bloggers, and readers to your release, and so on.

The feature also works as a "consumer tool, which makes it easier for the public to identify and share interesting content in the social networking communities," says Deirdre Breakenridge, author of "PR 2.0" and president of PFS Marketwyse, a PR firm.

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