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What’s the Difference Between a Social Media News Release and a Regular Press Release?

The “social media news release” is a big buzzword in the industry these days, and recently a client asked about the value of using this service.

While I am a big proponent of the social media news release in theory, in practice I believe you have better options. But first let’s talk about the different between a SMNR and a regular press release. There’s actually not a ton different between a regular release and a SMNR. What makes a social release different than a regular release is largely defined by three characteristics. The audience, the style and the technology.

Social media releases are billed as a release for your customers rather than the media. Basically it’s a call to give your news information right to your customer rather than relay that information through the media. And in this space the services are right on. Few people will push the retweet button on a PRWeb release, but you’ll see much more sharing on an article that’s written like a story, complete with graphics and other multimedia. Because of the new audience it affects the style of the release.

The style is different in that the social media release is written more like an article and less like a formal press release. Press releases are written to give journalists facts and information so that they can quickly write their own story in any way they want using the facts we provide. Regular releases quickly convey facts and can often seem dry, but they need to be so that a journalist can take whatever angle they choose.

There’s been an off again on again movement to change the way releases are written to make them more story like fashion, but I’ve found that most time reporters just want the facts to complete their story. Press releases can and do get picked up on their own, but we find our own clients achieve the most success when we work with reporters individually to generate a story idea and then follow up with the details contained in a release. This is one of the big reasons you need a firm to pitch your story so that the PR pro and journalist can work together to find a story that’s interesting to their readers and then give the facts to help make that story.

What’s different about social releases is that they aren’t meant for reporters, they are meant for readers. So you formulate your own angle and you write the story for the viewer. As I mentioned above the primary goal of the social release is to be shared. Few people will link back to a press release, but they will link back to a story or blog entry. That’s the goal of the social release.

The technology also differs a little bit. We use PitchEngine as it seems to be the best. It looks sharp, allows you to include a series of nice graphics, and has good integration with the social sharing tools. For instance it encourages you to create a suggested tweet. It has many features that make the story shareable and prompts to encourage sharing. Very different from a traditional wire service.

As a product I really like it. We use it for clients and I would recommend it for anyone looking to leverage a social media news release service.

The problem with social news releases is that I don’t see any difference between what they offer and what your blog can do. A blog is social and shareable. The posts are written for a specific audience and that audience demands more interesting stories. You can add photos, videos, and other interesting multimedia features. You have a running archive of news on your company. All great benefits of using a social news release service and hosted on your own domain with all your branding.

Yes, there are some differences between a social media news room and a blog. If the PitchEngine team is monitoring media coverage, I’m sure they’ll mention some good things in the comments. But for a client with a limited budget trying to choose between a blog and a social media newsroom, I’m going to recommend a blog every time.

What do you think? Am I completely overlooking the value of the social media newsroom or do you agree? Let me know in the comments.