Monday, November 06, 2006

Questions About Using the Social Media Release Format

For my organization, I only do one big media campaign a year. And it’s roughly the same story every year. Sometimes, I really do something creative with it and hardly get a bite. Other times, I’ve barely lifted a finger, and something happens that results in tons of good coverage.

A few weeks ago, I was at it again. But this time, I tried using the new social media release format. Now, diehard SMR experts will criticize me because it’s not the full-blown deal. For example, it doesn’t include a DiggIt feature or links. But hey, it’s my first attempt. And I put it together by myself with the resources of a small non-profit.

I did some homework first. I listened to a few of the SMR podcasts (but they were more chatty and techie-speak, than instructive). I joined the discussion list on Google Groups. I referred to Shift Communications’ terrific online PR 2.0 Guide. I went to the DiggIt web site to learn how to create the link. I studied SMRs recently distributed by other firms. Etc., etc.

Still, I have questions, very practical questions…

Once you figure out how to set up the DiggIt link, how can you test it? I don’t want to put anything on a news release that may not work. But you are not supposed to Digg your own stuff. And you sure don’t want to Digg something that you’re not releasing yet.

How do you set up a purpose-built page or tags? I know this is an amateur question, but tons of PR folks are amateurs at this.

What are the pros and cons of using a purpose-built page or tags? I need to know what to expect and how it will help reporters and my organization. I don’t want to do it just because it’s a standard part of a SMR.

If you don’t have a blog but you do have a web site, do you still need to include a list of tags on the release? If so, how? I include keywords and other optimization things in my web site. How are tags different, or are they just for blogs?

If you distributing your release yourself rather than using a wire service, do you really e-mail the whole thing? Once I created mine, it was more than two printed pages. I never send that much to reporters unless they request it. I typically only send a few sentences with a great subject line.

These are just a handful of the details that stumped me. Most of the blog posts and resources I found assumed a higher level of understanding of social media and technical jargon than I and many, many PR folk currently possess.

On a related note, Todd Defren and company have developed PRX Builder which is a “Social Media News Release Builder.” Of course it came out one week too late for me. And so I haven’t tried it out, but what a wonderful contribution to the field this is likely to be!

Unfortunately, I don’t know if the response we’ve gotten in this campaign is due to the content, the timing or the methods. It’s probably a combination. So, I’ll keep trying. I would really be interested in hearing about others’ SMR trials.


Brian Solis said...

Hey Christie, take a look at this...

There's so much to explain about all of your questions, that it might be easier if you give me a call. Send me an email at

Shannon Whitley said...

Hi Christie,

I agree. We need to create more simple introductory guides on some of the basics. Brian's guide is excellent, and I'm happy to see that Brian's offered his help.

I also think it would be great if Todd Defren would do a step-by-step guide to setting up a purpose-built page. I've taken a stab at the basics of Technorati Watchlists on my blog with an introduction to blog monitoring.

You might want to take a look at PRX Builder. It creates Digg and buttons for you so you don't have to worry about the coding.

Posts like this are extremely helpful. These types of questions will help everyone understand where to place more focus in development and training. I hope more people will follow your lead.

PR-Guy said...

I will try to respond to some of these questions soon! Thanks for raising the issues.

Kami Huyse, APR said...

Christie; I think that your questions are important. We have all gotten caught up up in the social media and PR 2.0 jargon and need to bring everyone else along. And of course, if you ever need any help, just call me ;-)

Christie Goodman, APR said...

Brian, Thanks for the link to the resource. I will look it over and get back with you.

Thanks to you all for your encouragement and offers to help.

PR-Guy said...

Hi Christie, I blogged about your Q's last night: