[Notes from session with Todd Defren, SNCR Fellow, SHIFT Communications, and Maggie Fox, Social Media Group.]
Will SMNR replace traditional releases?
Todd and Maggie are in “violent agreement” – why not add social media features to your release?
Do RSS-enabled news releases have the potential to take over the wire model?
Todd: Probably not; there are regulatory and legal requirements for certain releases that require wire services.
Maggie: If I were a wire service, I’d be very concerned about my business model. All media need to know is the URL the releases are coming from.
Discussion: Corporate America wants the reliability that only wire services can provide. But the RSS technology might improve over time and become reliable. Wire services are much more than distribution – there are other services they offer that RSS can’t compete with.
Todd: The problem with an RSS-only model is that as a journalist you lose some of the accidental discovery piece, you only get the feeds you’re subscribing to.
Comments on SMNRs are not necessary or even desirable.
Maggie: I agree. Companies do not always need to host a conversation. Sometimes they need to provide comment to enable those conversations.
Todd: I disagree. If it’s social media, it has to be social. Richard at Dell is a walking case study about the importance of conversations. I believe in moderated comments, to avoid spam, but why wouldn’t you want as many of the conversations to happen at the SMNR? There you have a better opportunity not to control the conversation but to engage in it, rather than chasing down every single blog post. You can aggregate the conversation at the SMNR site and respond there in an official way.
Maggie: Corporate blogs are where the conversations should take place. If you allow comments on a SMNR, why not just start a blog?
Todd: I see SMNR’s accumulating and being a blog. You link to flickr, YouTube, etc. People can comment there. So why not aggregate the comments and let the conversation happen there?
Maggie: Good point. In the releases we’ve issued for Ford, although there’s a very active online fan community for F-150, we only got about 25 comments. So there’s not an appetite for commenting on news releases. Had we allowed comments on the SMNR, we would have gotten comments from PR people: “nice release!”
Todd: Everyone has an invisible sign that reads “make me feel important.” By allowing comments right there on the SMNR you make people feel important.
Ultimately, the purpose behind creating the SMNR was to help journalists and make it easy for them: easy to find the fact, include all the links they need to research their article, etc.
Maggie: Many people who blog are not used to reading and digesting traditional press releases, so SMNR’s make it easier for them to sift through the information.
Todd: Using bullet points is a way to strip away the baloney and cut through the facts. Press release writing has often buried the facts in poor writing, so now when journalists see the bullets they go “oh, so THAT’s what you meant!” The SMNR strips away the “story” and provides just the facts.
Whitney Drake: At Ford, we’re doing both. We’re placing the bullet points at the top of news releases that need it, for journalists who only look at that. We’ve seen that journalists look at one, the other, or both.
Jiyan Wei, Vocus: Google News blocks some SMNRs because if they’re fragmented they’re not considered real news stories.
Maggie: Our digital snippets template doesn’t go into Google News, but it is findable through keyword search.
Should you have both SMNR’s and an online press room?
Maggie: No, they’re redundant.
What are the characteristics of the most effective SMNRs?
Maggie recalls the Chris Anderson story and how difficult it is to pitch to Wired. Howevered, Wired pulled information and images from a Ford SMNR.
Todd: ultimately, it all comes back to content. If the content is bad and not newsworthy, it doesn’t matter if you do a SMNR or not. You won’t get coverage.
If you’re doing SMNRs, is that all you need to do in terms of social media strategy?
SNCR audience snickers 🙂 The entire conference is about social media strategies, which Todd sums up as listening and participating.
Google corporate communication officer in the audience explains that relevant news will be posted on one of Google’s 150 corporate blogs, by an employee, and will reach the appropriate, targeted audience. Google issues very few press releases for a company its size.