Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Social Media Press Release: What Is It And Why You May Need It

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The Social Media Press Release is an evolved approach to preparing press releases characterized by a multimedial and facts-oriented approach. The typical social media press release integrates video clips, bookmarks, citations, blog posts, multiple links and resources allowing the news editor to pick and select individual info items that may best serve his interest, editorial style and audience.

Social Media Press Release Template by Todd Defren - Shift Communications

The Social Media News Release is an approach to releasing announcements that provides a uniquely rich set of relevant aggregated information, in multiple media, all individually open to re-use and re-distribution and capable to transform a static text-only press release into a dynamic venue for relevant discourse and multimedia contributions on the topic.

Though you will see this new type of press release referenced with different names, such as the social media release, the social news release or the multimedia release, these are all terms that converge to describe a new press release format that reflects and integrates all of the communication methods and tools that web 2.0 has brought with it.

"The SMNR's core function is simply to allow creators of news to leverage the Web familiarity that is now ingrained in consumer audiences. With 50+ percent of consumers now creating and sharing content online (Pew Research), it just makes sense to democratize access to corporate news and multimedia assets to anyone (reporters, bloggers, laypeople) who might be interested, and, to create a forum for community and context that - to date - has been unavailable via old-world press releases."

According to SHIFT principal Todd Defren, "the SMPR is simply a way to both Web-ify the content that you put in a news release, and also, ideally to socialize it. So it's about adding multimedia, making sure these things are more findable than they've ever been before in the age of Google, but also giving some community and context aspects to it as well. Letting people potentially comment on the news, or take and remix aspects of the news and put it on their own blog...and discuss it and find it among their own friends."


Social Media Press Release History

Todd Defren, Principal, SHIFT Communications - the father of the Social Media (Press) Release - Todd blogs at PR Squared

The Social Media Release was originally conceived as an evolved type of press release template in 2006 by Todd Defren of SHIFT Communications.

As a matter of fact, Todd Defren's original Social Media Release first template was created "in response to Tom Foremski's public call for the death of press releases" on SiliconValleyWatcher.

Tom Forenski had in fact just published a milestone article, entitled "Die! Press release! Die! Die! Die!" and which was setting the framework and scope within which the near-coming Social Media Release could find its own space.

The original SMR (Social Media Release) template provided, for the first time,

"a one-stop resource for bloggers, journalists, and people, to find relevant information for constructing stories without the B.S., or as Foremski called it, the "spintastic" messaging prevalent in traditional press releases.

Foremski called traditional news releases useless and artificial, and challenged the PR industry to rethink its strategies and adapt them to new realities, such as increasing disdain for "marketing clutter" and growing number of non-traditional publishing taking place on blogs and other Web sites."

(Source: Social Media Release)

Foremski original idea called for:

a) Deconstructing the press release into special sections and tag the information so that as a publisher, I can pre-assemble some of the news story and make the information useful.

b) Providing a brief description of what the announcement is, but leave the spin to the journalists. The journalists are going to go with their own spin on the story anyway, so why bother? Keep it straightforward rather than spintastic.

c) Providing a page of quotes from the CEO or other C-level execs.

d) Providing a page of quotes from customers, if applicable.

e) Providing a page of quotes from analysts, if applicable.

f) Providing financial information in many different formats.

g) Providing many links inside the press release copy, and also provide a whole page of relevant links to other news stories or reference sources.

h) Tagging everything so that stories can be more easily pre-assembled.

As an immediate re-action to this proposal, Todd Defren of SHIFT Communications first introduced on May 23, 2006 what he labelled the "social media press release template".

Not much later, on Dec. 5, 2006, Edelman, one of the largest and most prominent PR agencies announced StoryCrafter, a web-based tool for creating social media news releases.

On March 5, 2008, IABC announced it would take a lead in the push to develop standards around the social media release.

(Source: Socialtraining)

Others who have been carrying the Social Media Press Release flag ahead include "Chris Heuer who helped lead an effort to propose a standard for their construction and distribution; Stowe Boyd who reminds disingenuous, lazy or opportunistic PR people that they're not invited to participate in Social Media (and rightfully so); Shel Holtz who hosted the original NMRcast, and continues to demonstrate the value of new releases; Shannon Whitley's work to help PR "get it;"" and Brian Solis himself who wrote extensively and from whom I quoted the above passage.

Why Traditional Press Releases Do Not Work

Traditional press releases have becoming increasingly unsuccessful vehicles of product announcements as their format and communication style too strongly reflects the now too evident limits of traditional mass communication:

a) top-down, one-way

b) one-voice that's no-one voice

c) full of marketing hype - not credible

d) poor in verifiable facts

e) presented poorly in text-only format

f) lacking punch and immediate value for the reader

g) only one focus - the company being talked about

h) untargeted - written in a generic style

The Social Media Press Release Overview

The Social Media Release original template

The Social Media Press Release - original version (PDF)
The original Social Media Press Release template was developed by Todd Defren and Shift Communications in 2006.

The Social Media News Release (SMNR) is a new kind of press release aimed at a much broader audience than the one of traditional press releases. The new audience includes both pro journalists as well as new media reporters, online publishers, bloggers as well as direct consumers.

Differently than the traditional press release, the new social media press release avoid marketing hype and 'spin' while focusing more on providing multiple instances of multimedia content that can be easily sent, re-published and integrated in other online publications.

A social media release can include text content, video, images, embeddable components, widgets, RSS feeds, links to other relevant sources, quotes and citations, interviews, product specs and tech documentation as well as tags defining its specific relevance and topic/industry.

"The 'Big Change' is the recognition that journalists are Internet users - they are increasingly comfortable researching and working online, across many types of 're-mixable media' (hyperlinks, text, photos, videos, etc.) ... The Social Media Press Release merely amplifies prospective source materials; it does not replace a well-crafted, customized pitch nor replace the need to provide basic, factual news to the media."
(Source: Todd Defren)

The Social Media Press Release version by DigitalSnippets

The Digital Snippets - Social Media Press Release - original version (PDF)

While traditional press releases are generally a one-page document promoting a new product or announcement in the traditional press release hyped-up style, the new social media releases are created by aggregating a whole set of different content components that can be used discretely and in the ratio desired by the journalists, bloggers or direct consumers tapping into it.

In the social media press release, all content components can be easily re-used, including videos, audio interviews, images and other relevant content.

The newest version of the Social Media Release by Todd Defren - April 2008

Social Media Release ver. 1.5 (PDF) - Released April 2008 - read more about the new release of the Social Media Press Release

Reporters are given greater opportunity to explore and create their own story from the social media release as multiple content components and resources are aggregated in one place.

The Social Media Press Release Key Features


  • Facts-rich - The release contains one or more sections that provide tangible, non hyped information on the product/service being announced.
  • Organized in multiple content and resource components - The user should have the easiest time in spotting the different content components and accessing the ones that are of greater interest to him.
  • RSS feed(s)allowing readers to subscribe to updates and news about the story being announced. Also additional targeted web feeds by industry, country, and topic.
  • Photos, images - a rich library of images illustrating authors, product creators, product in use, testimonials, etc.
  • Links to many relevant resources
  • Listing of Trackbacks and Citations coming in from other blogs.
  • Tagging facility allowing readers to incrementally better define and classify the content category and relevant connections themes of your product/service
  • Social bookmarking options allowing readers to republish, report, share and email easily the social media release on services like services like, Digg, and Technorati
  • SEO-ready - an effective social media release will be blog-born so as to easily be indexed by major blog search engines
  • Readers contributions - allowing readers to contribute further relevant information including links, comments, images, videos and other relevant material.
  • Tag Cloud - showing all relevant keywords in a visual hierarchical fashion
  • News Radar on the topic of the news release

Top Five Principles of the Social Media Press Release

Todd Defren clarifies the "whys" behind the social media news release, as he calls it. They are:

1. Democratize "Access" - The content (words, multimedia, links) need to be available to all comers.

2. Ensure "Accuracy" - First off, given the electronic (and thus easily transfigured) nature of the Social Media News Release, we need to be thinking about some sort of "trustmark" scheme.

3. Embrace "Context" - Research and provide links to background information on your subject. Don't shy away from competitor information.

4. Build "Community" - We need to make it easy for anyone who views the Social Media News Release to: comment on its content; re-mix its multimedia elements for use in blogs, on YouTube, and in the online versions of traditional print publications; bookmark it using Social Media tools, etc.

5. Be "Findable" - Optimize your release so search engines see you and find you.

(Source: PR-Squared)

Why The Social Media Release May Be Essential To Your Online Promotion Work

Lee Otten of the Online Marketing Blog writes: "Due to the increasingly social and sharing nature of the web and the increasing importance of press releases as direct to consumer communication tools, it is important for marketers and public relations professionals to:

a) "adjust their message format and delivery to correspond with the needs of today's web savvy audience."

plus, you need to consider that:

b) "...editorial resources at many publications are running thinner than ever and expected to do more with less. Social media press releases provide links to additional resources that are helpful for story research and they also package information into formats that are easy to use for quotes and citing references/statistics. Images, audio and video also add impact to the release."

c) "Facilitating news distribution and consumption by utilizing social media elements provides the social media savvy Internet audience with information in a format that is familiar and more functional than a traditional press release. Encouraging the sharing of news via social bookmarks, social news, image and video sharing as well as subscribing to news via RSS provides the news publisher multiple options for meeting the information consumption needs of consumers as well as the media."

(Source: Lee Odden - Online Marketing Blog)

This is why the social media press release may gradually find a fertile space among those companies that want to communicate more effectively to a large group of people about a specific announcement.

How to Make a Social Media Press Release Work

Brian Clark, one of the top world bloggers, offers valuable advice when it comes to creating successful social media press releases.

Brian has published an excellent article entitled How to Get 6,312 Subscribers to Your Business Blog in One Day, which showcases what can make, a press release work, even when, like his case, the content is not designed or displayed as a traditional press release.

But as long as it accomplishes the same objectives of a traditional press release, the strategies and tactics utilized may prove to be effective tools to re-use in a social media press releases as well.

The secret tactic in Brian's article is that it didn't try to promote himself or his own product. Rather the article "announces a service and an accomplishment but (this is important) then goes on to create value by explaining what techniques were used to create that success, why these techniques work, and how the audience can replicate the results."

(Source: Muhammad Saleem - Copyblogger)
Copyblogger's Brian Clark strategic advice is:

To summarize the components of such a strategy they would be:

1) Headline
A sure-fire headline structure.

2) Introductory paragraph
A strong opening that uses an anecdote that paints a relevant picture with which readers can easily identify

3) Persuasive content
Content that utilizes all the laws of persuasive blogging.

4) Professionally formatted content,
Properly chunked, organized and grouped and it is easy to scan and read through.

5) Multimedia-rich
Provides content in a multiplicity of formats.

6) Value-rich
Goes to the facts, tells an interesting story, provides immediate value.

"This is an excellent example of how putting readers first can provide big rewards in social media, as opposed to spending $200 to issue a press release that no one reads. Find a way to deliver value to people beyond your company news, and more people will take an interest in what you're doing."

The Social Media Press Release In Action - Real World Examples

How to write Social Media Press Releases

Anasoft Introduces an All New 3-D Screensaver Just in Time for Halloween
(Eric Ward - URLwire)

Chevy Presents a Great Opportunity to U.S. College Students

SHIFT Communications Debuts First-Ever Template for "Social Media Press Release"

Novell Suse Linux Enterprise

Lifeline Christian Music Festival

Belkin Notebook Expansion Dock

Edelman's launch of StoryCrafter

Coca-Cola Virtual Thirst Design Competition

Winter on ITV2



Ford Trucks

Eurekster Wiki


More Social Media Releases examples

Social Media Press Release Videos

The video social media release

Social Media News / Press Release

An overview of the Social Media News / Press Release (SMNR/SMPR) and the realwire "blogit" service from webitpr the UK online news distribution company

March 12, 2008
Social Media Explorer sat down with the Social Media Group to talk about Digital Snippets, their application of the social media press release, at South by Southwest.
by Jason Falls

StoryCrafter by Edelman

via Steve Rubel - MicroPersuasion


The Press Release Grader


HubSpot's Press Release Grader evaluates your press release and provides a marketing effectiveness score. This score is based upon basic factors from public relations experts including the language and content of the release, plus advanced factors from Internet marketing experts such as links and search engine optimization characteristics.

The Press Release Grader is a free tool designed to help PR pros and marketers maximize a press release so it can be found more easily by media, bloggers, customers and prospects. Some of the other good stuff you get at Press Release Grader includes:

  • General Statistics -- Provides readability levels which help you understand if the release is easy or difficult to read.
  • Link Analysis -- Analyzes the links in your release and determines if they will help drive more links back to your website.
  • Word Cloud -- Visually identifies the words most often used in the release. Analysis is a good indicator for the main topic of the release.

Press Release Grader Video

Overview of HubSpot's Press Release Grader Internet Marketing tool which evaluates news releases and produces a report to help improve your PR program.

PRX Builder

Based on the original Social Media Press Release Template from Todd Defren of SHIFT Communications, PRX Builder helps you easily create the next generation of press releases. Enhance your press release with new media elements such as links, multimedia, and social media service buttons for digg and Automatically add Technorati tags and then distribute your release through PR Newswire.

PRX Builder allows anyone to create an online press release (also known as a Social Media Release, or SMR). PRX Builder is a simple wizard that walks you through each step. Write your content, insert links, add images and video; everything you need is right here.

  • PRX Builder for Wordpress

    The Social Media Release Wordpress Plugin - Access PRX Builder from inside WordPress. Post your Social Media Release (SMR) right to your blog.

  • SimpleSMPR

    With SimpleSMPR, it's easy to create a release using WordPress. Write your release, tag the release elements, and publish. You can upload your release directly from WordPress to PRX Builder and distribute it through PR Newswire. Release templates are provided, or make and save your own.

  • Media Tools

    Media Tools is a Firefox extension that includes a tool called PR Slice. PR Slice detects new media releases when you visit a web page and breaks apart the release, making it easier to pull just the pieces that you need for further research or insertion into your articles.

  • PRX Office

    PRX Office, a Microsoft® Word Add-In, makes it easy to publish your release from a Word document. Write your release, highlight the text, and right-click to use the PRX Office shortcut menu.

Which PR Service To Use for Distributing A Social Media Release

Todd Defren writes: "Which service is best for SMRs?" - but says right after "we've never had a consistent answer. The market changes quickly, for one, and some wire services will work better than others, depending on the clients' needs and budgets."

Guide to Social Media Release Capabilities Across the Major Wire Services

February 2008
Social Media release (SMR) Capabilities Across Major Wire Services - (PDF)

The good thing is that he has since put together a checklist, a quick way to compare the claims made from the several PR release distribution services. The 1-page downloadable PDF mini-guide entitled Guide to Social Media Release Capabilities Across the Major Wire Services gives now some initial reference to those shopping to find the right SMR service.

Learn More about Social Media Press Release

The Definitive Guide To The Social Media Release
(Brian Solis)

Is the Social Media Press Release a Meatball Sundae?

How to Write a Social Media Press Release, Why, and What It All Means
(Brian Solis)

Social Media Releases - Everything You Ever Wanted to (or Should) Know
(Brian Solis)

The Future Social Media Release Is In Your Hands
(Brian Solis)


Originally written by for Master New Media and first published on May 31st 2008 as "The Social Media Press Release: What Is It And Why You May Need It"

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posted by Robin Good on Saturday, May 31 2008, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

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