The term “press release” conjures up images of busy newsrooms and breaking scandal. The truth is that press releases are incredibly powerful promotion tools for all businesses, regardless of budget. You don’t have to be a literary genius or a Fortune 500 to create interesting content to promote your company.

There is a traditional (and arguably boring) format for press releases (PRs) that is not likely to excite your target audience – which should be journalists and editors. This time-honored structure usually includes basic announcements and company information. However, over the last few years, social media has been incorporated into these traditional PRs, creating a hybrid of sorts – blending the style of a traditional release with the sleek look and integration of Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. These were designed to reach bloggers, online magazines and podcast stations, while simultaneously targeting potential customers. Pioneered by PR agencies  in the U.S., like Shift Communications, this new type of press release and its structure is becoming widely accepted by more traditional media.

What’s the difference?

Standard press releases are aimed toward traditional media (television, print publications, radio) and consumers who may stumble across them, but you want larger outlets to pick them up and report on you. Whether you’re running a special, opening a new store or receiving an award, you are hoping for buzz about your brand.

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Image from SHIFT Communications
A social media release (or SMR) is aiming for the same, but includes your social networking links, relevant video, RSS feeds, and ways for readers to instantly connect to your company.

How does it fit?

A lot of controversy surrounds SMRs – some people love them and others hate them. There is no doubt on either side of the argument, however, that social media is a must-have component of any well-designed marketing campaign. Many people utilize traditional press releases when sending information to traditional outlets, and send SMRs to bloggers and other large Web media outlets.

When do I send it?

When you’re launching your business, opening a storefront, providing a new product or service, hosting an event or even partnering with another company – any time your company has news – SEND IT. Though the power of a press release may not be long-lasting, it is likely to grab the attention of someone who wants to write about your new venture and give you free promotion!

What does it look like?

Whatever design you create or template you plug your information into, it is generally accepted that your social media release should include RSS feeds, Twitter and Facebook links, video or podcast information, company history, special products or services, quotes that are easily pulled by bloggers for their posts, and of course, contact information. This should draw your readers in and make it easy to navigate through your online network.

One thing that can be easily lost in these SMRs is content. Don’t forget that with the multimedia and outside links – your message must be clear, engaging and high-quality. You may be trying to expand the outlets with which you release your information, but you have to be certain that your company’s passion is expressed through the most traditional form: words.

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