The Rise of Social Media Press Releases

77104_509809602408423_435631508_n

The Rise of the Social Media Press Release

Yesterday I visited a Facebook group in which I’m a member. I was somewhat taken aback when I read a post that started –

“Social media has forever changed how nonprofits and journalists distribute and consume news stories, yet the format of press releases has not evolved at all. Almost every communication medium out there has been impacted by the rise of social and mobile media, but not press releases.” (11 Tips for Making Nonprofit Press Releases Social and Shareable)

Well, I know I’ve been creating and posting social media releases (SMR) and releases that are Search Engine Optimized (SEO) since 2009 when I managed The Eizenstat Family Memorial Lecture featuring Al Gore.

And, I’m far from the first!

Then I remembered the post The Definitive Guide to Social Media Releases by Brian Solis, written February 11, 2008.

The blog covers a lot of information about the creation of SMR and the evolution of press release wires and includes a description of what an SMR should include:

  • Headline
  • Intro paragraph, rich with key words, relevance and context (summary)
  • Supporting facts
  • Quote
  • Embeddable Video (The new VNR)
  • Embeddable Audio
  • Embeddable Images
  • RSS for the organization’s news
  • RSS for product/services info
  • Post in “insert social network of choice”
  • Blog this (links to blogging platforms)
  • Share on Twitter, Tumblr, etc.
  • Bookmarks
  • Relevant links
  • Digg, Reddit, and other relevant news aggregators and communities
  • Comments – Maybe also include a link to a hosted network on Ning or even a discussion forum
  • Contact: hcard, vcard, Linked, Facebook

I use a national or local release distribution service, depending on the scope of the release. All have templates in which you input your press release and include ways to ensure that they are SEO and SMR.

I love using the Atlanta Daybook for local news releases. They have direct reach into the newsrooms, corporate headquarters and nonprofits in my target market.

Once the release is posted I encourage members of the organization to share with their organizational partners and personal networks.

I also send my releases pasted to the face of a personalized email. When I do this I:

  • Keep everything flush left, including the header, sub-head, organization’s logo and contact information
  • Follow the classic pyramid with the most relevant information in the 1st paragraph
  • Ensure that the subject line has all the relevant information & piques interest in the release
  • Use keywords in the header and subhead
  • Hyperlink the name of the organization, project and/or event to the organization’s website in the 1st paragraph
  • Use a relevant quote in the third paragraph
  • Link details of relevant information back to the organization’s website
  • Provide a link to usable JPEG files housed in the website press room
  • Add a link to the website in the boilerplate
  • Add contact info to the bottom of the release
  • Post the release in the organization’s press room, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter feed, blog and whatever social media platforms they use.

Is there room for improvement? Absolutely! Read through the suggestions in 11 Tips for Making Nonprofit Press Releases Social and Shareable and see which suggestions will work with your organization. Also checkout Marketwire’s Tips for Entering Your Nonprofit into the Social Media Environment and PRWeb’s Nonprofit News Release Services. You’ll find good information and some excellent examples of nonprofit social media releases.

Remember, no matter how social and shareable your release is, be sure that the information is relevant and worthy of distribution and creating positive conversations between your organization and your target markets. And, don’t forget that to have ‘real’ people follow up and respond to queries from the media and bloggers.

Any other suggestions? We’d love to hear from you!

Using The POST Method to Guide Nonprofit Marketing Communications

Every morning I spend time reading posts from some of my favorite social media gurus. In all the years that I’ve been working with nonprofits I’ve never experienced such willingness to share information. I’m like a little girl in a candy shop.

Then I stumbledupon a guest post on Windmill Networking by Claire Axelrad –  A New Era in Nonprofit Marketing: Why Winging It with Social Media No Longer Works.

Claire’s opening sentence – “On a wing and a prayer is not a strategy” caught my fancy. Unfortunately her contention that many nonprofits simply ‘wing it’ when it comes to social media is true.

The post is a must read! Throughout Claire provides links to many of the incredible voices in social media, including Kivi Leroux Miller, Beth Kanter, Brian Solis and many more.

As I followed the links I ran across a link to an Internal working plan for AIDS.gov communication strategy. AIDS.gov uses traditional and emerging communications channels to further their reach in HIV prevention, testing treatment and care.

The AIDS.gov communications approach is based on Forrester Research’s POST  Method.  Josh Bernoff, senior vice president, idea development, at Forrester Research, developed The POST Method in 2007. It is really simple, yet profound in that it provides a user-friendly system for using traditional and emerging communications channels. The acronym refers to the four-step approach:

P is People. Don’t start a social strategy until you know the capabilities of your audience. If you’re targeting college students, use social networks. If you’re reaching out to business travelers, consider ratings and reviews. Forrester has great  data to help with this, but you can make some estimates on your own. Just don’t start without thinking about it.

O is objectives. Pick one. Are you starting an application to listen to your customers, or to talk with them? To support them, or to energize your best customers to evangelize others? Or are you trying to collaborate with them? Decide on your objective before you decide on a technology. Then figure out how you will measure it.

S is Strategy. Strategy here means figuring out what will be different after you’re done. Do you want a closer, two-way relationship with your best customers? Do you want to get people talking about your products? Do you want a permanent focus group for testing product ideas and generating new ones? Imagine you succeed. How will things be different afterwards? Imagine the endpoint and you’ll know where to begin.

T is Technology. A community. A wiki. A blog or a hundred blogs. Once you know your people, objectives, and strategy, then you can decide with confidence.

How AIDS.gov uses The Post Method

Before AIDS.gov starts any new communications activity they discuss the following questions:

  • Who are we trying to reach?
  • What information does our audience need? If we do not know, how can we find out?
  • What is our audience’s use of and comfort level with various communication tools?
  • What do we want to accomplish with this particular audience?
  • Is someone else already doing this? What partnerships do we need to engage to learn more about this audience and plan a response?
  • What resources (e.g., funding, time, capacity, human resources, etc.) do we have to implement and maintain this strategy?
  • What tools are most appropriate for this target audience, objectives, and strategy?
  • What would success look like? How can it be measured?

The AIDS.gov Communicaton Strategy Internal Working Plan, January 2011 contains detailed presentations on how they use the POST Method, tools to listen, guidelines for engaging and connecting and monitoring and evaluation.

I strongly recommend anyone interested in using The POST Method for your nonprofit strategic communications review the report.

Interested in a sample Communications Grid based on POST? Please let me hear from you – deborah@creative-si.com.