Reasons to reconsider the social media release; tips for getting there

* Jennifer Leggio is at RSA ConferenceGuest editorial by Serena EhrlichOver the last four years, public relations and marketing professionals have been inundated with articles, seminars and products designed to create the perfect "social media release." But should you really care?
Written by Jennifer Leggio, Contributor

* Jennifer Leggio is at RSA Conference

Guest editorial by Serena Ehrlich

Over the last four years, public relations and marketing professionals have been inundated with articles, seminars and products designed to create the perfect "social media release." But should you really care?

First, let me answer this: What is the social media press release?  It is a press release that includes ALL of the additional elements a reporter or consumer would want to see before they write about your company or buy your product (including multimedia and links to related sites).

Media outlets, bloggers and reporters are wearing multiple hats with less time for research. Of course, if you provide them with the info they need, you automatically increase your chances of being featured. But that's not really news. And PR people are now having to worry about SEO and site traffic in a way that only marcom people had to worry before. So, here are five reasons why you really should consider using the social media release:

  • Free web visibility: If you follow the below plan, every supporting element you include in your release will be placed on free micro search engines that have enough natural "Google juice" to increase your company's overall natural search engine results (SERPS) helping you develop and grow your company brand and sales online.

  • Easy for anyone to access and use your multimedia asset: These asset hosting sites give you the technical codes needed for reporters and consumers to download, link to or embed the element as needed.

  • Free measurement: These sites provide measurement including number of views and number of downloads

  • The more websites linking to your website, the higher your website appears in Google search results.

  • Not time intensive: Once you have all your information together, give yourself about 1-2 hours to set up, 1-2 hours a month to maintain.

So how do you build the social media release that increases your overall brand visibility online?

1. Write a clear, succinct press release and gather your supporting assets including:

  • High and low resolution (print and web quality) images

  • Product photos
  • Screen shots
  • Print ads
  • Company logo
  • Company management photos

  • Video

  • Demo/training videos
  • Product video
  • Tradeshow video
  • Viral videos
  • Commercials

  • Documents

  • Legal documents
  • Product specs
  • Marketing materials
  • Company overview
  • Executive bios

  • Articles

  • Links to articles on the web that support your product and your position

2.    Create a corporate account on the following highly optimized, free websites.  Fill out your profile, upload your logo as your image and add in your website and email address when possible:

  • Photobucket - image hosting
  • Flickr - image and short video hosting
  • YouTube - video hosting
  • Docstoc - document hosting
  • Delicious - article links
  • And these are just five examples of traffic driving sites

3.    Populate your accounts

  • Upload all your supporting materials. Name and tag each asset clearly.
  • Tags are a great way to increase your visibility in search results so include as many as you can.

4.       Update the press release section of your website with links to all of the above locations.

5.       Include this information in your press releases Add this in right before the "ABOUT US" company boilerplate.

  • Downloadable, print quality photos available here: LINK TO YOUR PHOTOBUCKET AND FLICKR
  • Videos available here: LINK TO YOUR YOUTUBE PAGE
  • Supporting materials and product specs available here: LINK TO YOUR DOCSTOC PAGE
  • To view additional relevant articles, click here: LINK TO YOUR DELICIOUS PAGEE

6. Track your successes: Within a few days you should see these sites appearing in your search results

7. Maintain your asset sites: Update materials and continue to add new elements

In less than two hours, you created a completely interactive press release providing reporters and consumers easy access to information they need. In addition, you have added your company information into 5 of the most optimized sites on the web, ensuring higher ranking in search results.

TIP: Looking to go one step further? Convert the above multimedia hosting sites into social networking pages for you by encouraging your clients, members, users and employees to add in their own photos, videos and testimonies. This is an excellent way to identify and build your brand evangelists.

So how do you distribute your shiny new press release? There are so many options on how to distribute your press release online!  Some are free, some not.  Here are a few tips on how to maximize your newswire dollars.

How to save money when using a commercial newswire service:

Select your distribution carefully:  Newswires charge based on word count as well as to distribute press releases to newspapers, business journals within a geographic region while including distribution to trade magazines, online services and the financial community for free, no matter where these outlets are located.

  • So when to use a national distribution: If your audience is wide scale consumer and is appropriate to be written in every newspaper across the country, use the national circuit

  • If your audience is industry oriented, web-based or regional, select a regional or local circuit. If you keep your release under 400 words, you can distribute a completely interactive social media release to thousands of reporters, consumers and bloggers to the LA Metro circuit with Business Wire for only $210.

But free is good, so don't limit yourself:  It definitely does not hurt you to ensure broadest possible visibility for your  release by using free services like PitchEngine, and free-press-release.com to broaden your web-based visibility.   I keep this list from CyberAlert bookmarked on all my computers:  http://www.cyberalert.com/free_news_release_distribution_sites.html

Tip: Minimize potential budget issues, ask for a price quote before your release crosses the wire

TIP: Remember, quality counts:  Many free services are unable provide the same distribution, visibility or standard of quality that an established wire such as Business Wire or PR Newswire and others can.

In short?  You can dramatically increase impact of a well written press release by including links to supporting multimedia, documents and articles and use traditional and new newswire services.

About the author, Serena Ehrlich is a consultant with Startup Army with 14 years experience in the newswire industry.  She can be found at www.twitter.com/serena

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