I posted earlier about the nature of the press release in today’s world of PR. I said that it will still be a relevant tool, as most journalists rely on them to create news content. Additionally, I said that journalistic content is amplified throughout the web via blog links and other aggregating factors. One of the best ways to maximize this effect is by distributing a dynamic release that incorporates the maximum amount of new media and social networking elements.
Pressitt.com has a fantastic free utility that allows users to make such a release, hereafter called a Social Media News Release.
A great SMNR would contain the traditional core elements of a press release. Listed initially would be the contact information for relevant individuals, including client, spokesperson and agency rep. Optional details, along with phone numbers would be email addresses, websites, Skype or IM handles, and links to twitter or Facebook pages.
The major text portion of the release would still be front and center, below the contact info, however severely reduced in volume. Major elements would include a carefully worded headline and subhead that clearly and concisely detailed the most relevant details of the new development. Here there could be body text but I believe that bullet points would be ideal.
Below the bullet points or body text would be either links to relevant sites (ideally within the corporation’s umbrella web site) or to coverage that had already been generated via other news outlets. Instead of links, a particularly savvy user could substitute RSS feeds, should he intend to add additional content as time went on.
For the boilerplate essential elements would include RSS feeds to new releases, a button for bookmaking the release. Additionally, links to whichever relevant news media aggregators (such as Digg or del.icio.us) could be incorporated here.
There would be two columns utilized here, on either side of the major text content. One idea that I think is great is to have a comment stream. This is a bit of a pandora’s box: most press releases are thought of as strictly one-way communication and not user-driven by any means. However if such a function was enabled and moderated it could prove a dynamic way to drive interest to the release and further engage non-journalists. A similar idea would be to provide trackbacks to any blogs that linked to the release, providing publicity as a reward to individual bloggers who drove users to the release.
The opposite column would need to be a way to simply and intuitively provide the mixed media with the release. This would include photos, podcasts or MP3 files, graphics or visually presented data and video or b-roll. Each element would need a separate URL as well as a link to embed it into social media sites.
For photos, I think that the “less is more” strategy would be the best. Two photos that identified the relevant development, product or service would ensure uniformity in coverage and maintain stronger brand identity. As for the audio, I think that an 8-10 minute clip that included interviews with C-Suite personnel, and any applicable demonstration of the product or service would be ideal. This would make great content for independent podcasters or traditional radio broadcasters. I believe that a downloadable MP3 file would be the best format here, save a serialized podcast produced by the PR professional.
Video is the most tricky here, as it has the most potential to dominate any given page. A small media player that had whichever clip was most relevant to the release ready to play upon loading the page would be best. While hovering over the image, any user should be able to maximize the screen size, get URLs or embedded links, or select to browse through other video content. I think if the company in question had a thriving B-roll interface elsewhere, a link to such content would be sufficient.
Some of my favorite SMNR’s can be found here, here and here.