The Rise of Social Media Press Releases


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!

A tribute to a great event chair

Event co-Chairs celebrate Eizenstat Lecture with President Clinton

I was saddened to learn that Marshall Solomon had died. Our paths crossed when he chaired two Eizenstat Family Memorial Lectures.

To say that Marshall was the consummate event chair is an understatement.

I learned a lot from working with Marshall, especially on the lecture featuring President Bill Clinton. As the event consultant I came to rely on Marshall’s sage advice and willingness to keep the committee and ultimately the event on point.

In honor of Marshall I share some of the lessons I learned:

  • A committed event Chair is key to success.
  • Work with the Chair to hold a brainstorming session when you begin the planning.
  • A personal invitation from the event chair to serve on and/or chair a committee goes a long way.
  • A Chair cannot oversee the event- at- large if not updated in ‘real time’.
  • If you make a mistake be sure your Chair is informed so he/she can be part of the solution.
  • Know what personal mark the Chair wants to make and help him/her achieve it.
  • The Chair means having to make big decisions. Respect the decision.
  • Never forget that being Chair is a volunteer position & most have other responsibilities to family & work.
  • The only compensation is acknowledgement of a job well done and a thank you.
  • You can’t recognize and thank your event Chair enough.
  • No matter how organized and experienced the Chair and committee Chairs are, something will go wrong. So be prepared to deal with it.
  • An event Chair with an understanding of budgets and the backbone to keep the event on-budget is worth his/her weight in gold.
  • An event is a team effort. An event Chair is the quarterback and cheerleader.

Marshall and I had different interests. But, when it came to working together on an event we had a single focus.

Thank you Marshall.


Insights into Nonprofit Social Media

How can you squander even one more day not taking advantage of the greatest shifts of our generation? How dare you settle for less when the world has made it so easy for you to be remarkable?”” Seth Godin

I admit I didn’t understand the significance of social media until the 21st Annual Eizenstat Family Memorial Lecture featuring Al Gore in 2009. It was the first time that I incorporated a social media strategy into the marketing communications plan.

The goal was to increase awareness of the lecture series and the host organization. By all measures the lecture was a resounding success! Social media, especially Facebook and Twitter, played a significant role.

The yearly Nonprofit Social Network Benchmark Report, sponsored by Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN), Common Knowledge and Blackbaud, focuses on social media trends in the nonprofit sector. The 4th annual report provides interesting insights.  More than 3500 nonprofit professionals responded to an online survey about their use of social media.

Two social networks were part of the study:

  • Commercial Social networks, e.g., Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Google+, Myspace, Flickr and Foursquare.
  • House Social networks –networks built & managed by the nonprofit in-house.

Here are a few of the 2012 social media insights:

  1. Only Facebook and Twitter increased from 2011 to 2012. Respondents accumulated an average of 8,317 Facebook members & 3,290 followers on Twitter, an increase of 30% and 81% respectively from 2011.
  2. A consolidated brand strategy, which focuses most or all branding & marketing  on one Facebook page and 1 Twitter account is the norm.
  3. The average value of a supporter acquired via Facebook Like is $214.81 over the 12 months following acquisition. This includes all revenue from individual donations, membership, events, etc.
  4. Facebook advertising is mainly used to raise awareness and build a support base, not for fundraising.
  5. 54% of respondents said they were not fundraising on Facebook. An Ask for an individual gift is the most common fundraising tactic on Facebook. Event fundraising was the 2nd highest category.

What I found to be the most telling were the top 3 factors for success on Social Networks. They speak to the same focus that is necessary for all successful initiatives:

  • #1 – Developed a strategy
  • #2 – Prioritization by executive management
  • #3 – Dedicated social media staff

In other words – Develop a plan, get buy-in and identify a knowledgeable key team member to lead the new initiative.

Is your nonprofit using social media? I would love to hear what is working best for you. Please contact


Increasing Attendance with Social Media

Your special event is planned. Now, the critical question is – how do you  increase your attendance?

Everyone points to the benefits of social media to drive your attendance. Social media is a vehicleyou use to enact your strategy. You can increase the value of your special event by integrating social media into your marketing strategy.

But, before you develop your strategy, ask yourself these questions developed by Stacey Ruth, a marketing consultant with Atlanta-based Actio Marketing :

  1. Are your attendees active in any of the social media (e.g., Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube or blogs/forums)?
  2. Do you have an awareness problem, and are you trying to reach large number of attendees quickly (and perhaps inexpensively)?
  3. Do you have someone on your team with enough time on their hands to populate a social media site effectively? (That means building content that can be pushed out every day in most cases.)
  4. Do you have knowledge (or access to someone with knowledge) of best practices for the social media platform you want to apply? Social media is not an “if you build it, they will come” scenario. There is a definite approach to each social network that is uniquely effective — and any number of approaches that are equally ineffective!
  5. Would you like to build an extended life to your event and create a community around it? 

If you answered yes to more than one of the above questions, social media including Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and Twitter, is worth integrating into your event marketing strategy. However, don’t overlook the value of tried-and-true ‘social media’ platforms including Word Of Mouth marketing or WOMM.

Word-of-mouth marketing (WOMM), is an unpaid form of oral or written promotion—in which satisfied “customers” or your organization’s ambassadors tell other people how much they like your nonprofit and invite them to participate in your event. Word-of-mouth is one of the most credible forms of advertising because people who don’t stand to gain personally by promoting something put their reputations on the line every time they make a recommendation, according to Entrepreneur.

Bottom line – know your audiences before you invest the time and energy as part of your event marketing strategy. Use your social media strategy as a way to involve your board and volunteers.

Any questions about specific social media vehicles to use for your event? Be sure and contact me at

An additional gift – Meeting Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Martin Ginsburg

Eizenstat Family welcome Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (2nd from right) and Martin Ginsburg (2nd from left). Photo credit: Mary Mahon-Fardis

You’ve heard me talk about how much work goes into planning and executing events. This is a given. But, there are added gifts beyond knowing you are helping make a difference for your organization’s clients.

This blog started with lessons learned from Al Gore. I met and worked with Gore and his staff when he was in Atlanta for the 21stEizenstat Family Memorial Lecture.

A few years ago, I had the privilege of working with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, when she was the featured speaker at the Eizenstat Lecture. What an honor.

A major donor appreciation dinner was held the night before the lecture. Accompanying Justice Ginsburg was her husband Martin Ginsburg, a prominent tax lawyer and professor in his own right.

Learning of Martin Ginsburg’s death earlier this morning brought back a flood of memories and a realization that I was in the company of not one, but two incredible people willing to share their time and knowledge.

That brief encounter from “strangers in the road” taught me more about humility and gave me a deep appreciation for their supportive relationship.

May your life be for a blessing Martin Ginsburg.