Rethinking the Social Media Release, Courtesy of Brodeur

A recent Brodeur study looks at how journalists are using blogs and other social media. The study found that journalists are primarily using social media to find new angles and arguments for their stories. They’re not interested in original reporting. They’re interested in the movement of opinions and perspective on the web. The Brodeur press release reads:

“While only a small percentage of journalists feel that blogs are helpful in generating sources or exclusives, they do see blogs as particularly useful in helping them better understand the context of a story, a new story angle, or a new story idea. It appears that reporters are using blogs more for ethnographic research than they are for investigative research,” [Jerry] Johnson commented.

Okay. So, absent any detailed info on where journalists go and how they get there, let’s imagine what this looks like. Political reporters on deadline are checking out Daily Kos to read the community chatter of the latest debates. They’re surfing to Feministing to see the reaction on the new FDA ruling on birth control. And Business reporters are scrolling through a company’s blog to get their take on a recent product recall.

If all this is true, what does it mean for the social media release? Right now, the Brian Solis-branded social media release is more like a distribution center for value-rich content. It is intended to start or assist conversations around an issue using company-provided content. A typical SMR could include a series of quotes from decision-makers, a YouTube video on the issue, Del.icio.us bookmarks to related articles, boilerplate language about the company, and a Facebook fan page for the company product.

These items all serve as content for a potential blog post, article or report–but the template itself does not emphasize an opinion or perspective. In fact, I would argue that official quotes and company boilerplate washes out the essential ingredients that makes blogs so interesting–that is, nuance and disagreement.

How about retrofitting the SMR with a bit more attitude? Maybe there should be a space for respectful disagreement. Or perhaps we need to add some bite to the typically dry soundbites of our spokespeople. Whatever the approach, Brodeur’s study suggests we take a second look at the SMR and our assumptions behind it.

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8 Responses

  1. Jess

    Why should a SMPR give the opposing side’s point of view? To me, dry soundbites sort of serve as a foundation. The other stuff jazzes it up.

    Jonathan

  2. I know it’s blasphemy to suggest such a thing–but I think it really gets at the tension between social media and traditional PR. A truly social SMPR would be remiss to ignore the conversations happening around it.

  3. Interesting point, but I’d guess most clients would disagree. Of course, many of them still balk at the concept of SMPR in the first place.

  4. Hi Jess,

    The company who I work for, webitpr (www.webitpr.com), has its own version of the social media news release.

    We agree entirely with your sentiment regarding facilitating conversations around it. That’s why we included in our SMNR platform the ability for anyone to comment on the release itself – regardless of opposing or agreeing views.

    We’ve also included with this the ability for a company spokesperson to monitor the comments. So, in other words, if someone should comment they know who will be responding.

    Again, we’ve included a little piece of Technorati java script which shows the inbound blog links to the SMNR and we also monitor for and upload coverage to the platform as and when it happens.

    Here’s a couple of examples:

    http://blogit.webitpr.com/?ReleaseID=6166

    http://blogit.webitpr.com/?ReleaseID=7296

    And this is our SMNR promo/educational video:

    Stephen

  5. Hi Stephen,
    Thanks for including some links. I love the Technorati script–giving the user the ability to sift through both positive and negative reactions in the blogosphere. Very cool.

    What’s interesting (but not surprising) to me is that no one appears to be commenting on the actual SMNR. I’m guessing this is the norm. This fall, I subscribed to the GM social media press room comments feed to see if people were actually using the tool, and since then, I’ve only seen 3-4 comments come through. Not exactly a conversation! More like an empty auditorium with an occasional passerby.

    I like your template, and especially like that someone is assigned to respond to comments. I think that provides a great service to your customers. I still wonder if the SMNR/SMR can’t be made to not just accommodate opinion, but to celebrate it. The Technorati script seems like a good step in that direction.

  6. Hi Jess,

    Whoops, I actually forgot to mention that no one is commenting on our SMNRs. The reason why we introduced the comment moderator facility was so that it might prompt people to leave a comment if they know who is going to respond. (Imagine putting out an Apple SMNR with Steve Jobs as the comment moderator – would never happen but would be interesting to see!)

    But, alas, no one has commented just yet. I’m optimistic though. It’s still early days and (I believe) it’s only us early adopters who are used to making comments over the web. The day will come when a particular SMNR is put out and bang, comments galore.

    Re: your comment about celebrating opinion. Thing is, a press release (regardless of which format) is an official statement of an organization. Many press releases have to be proofed by lawyers so that they’re not setting themselves up for any legality issues. They’re actual documents that are archived and can be used in a court of law so making them purely opinion would be kinda tough I think.

    But, hey, you never know.

  7. independent of this specific entry, i know, but i just wanted to say how glad i am to see that you got the blog up and running as you had hoped! once i figure out RSS feeds (i know, i know, i’m oh-so-antiquated) i shall have to add TFP to it.

    see you in the blogosphere!
    barrett

  8. Hey Barrett,
    So nice to see you around these parts! 😉

    RSS is both a blessing and a curse. Each morning, I feel like Sisyphus pushing my rock up the mountain. So, as you can imagine, I’m quite honored that you’d include the Full Plate in your reader.

    j

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