How to Write a Social Media Press Release

Strapped with a small advertising budget, Blendtec[1]‘s marketing director Jeff Robe, took a chance in trying to change the brand’s reputation.  Blendtec was largely known as a commercial manufacturer of high-end blenders for restaurants, Starbucks franchises and more. Robe created the Will It Blend?[2] video series, hosted by company founder Tom Dickson and aimed at showing the powerful ability of Blendtec’s Total Blender for home use, priced at $400.

Dickson put everything from an iPhone to hockey pucks and a toilet plunger to a World Cup vuvuzela in to the blender.  Over 100 episodes and millions of YouTube views later, the Will It Blend?[3] video series is one of the great examples of viral sharing and marketing success in the era of social media. According to the company, home sales of their blenders have increased 700% since November 2006 to August 2010. A truly viral success story, social media changed the perception of the Blendtec brand.

While not every social media campaign can be as successful as Blendtec’s, it’s often the way that the message or product is shared that determines its success. Advertising and public relations can be extremely effective tools when used properly, but they are, by definition, one-way forms of communications. Social media, on the other hand, is defined by the ability of both sides to converse and share information.

And despite the change in technology, the press release remains one of the best ways to get your message out. But writing a press release for social media is not like writing a traditional press release. Before digging in, however, it is important to note that social media press releases do not replace traditional releases, they complement them – much in the same way that social activities and campaigns work best in conjunction with traditional PR initiatives.

“If you think of a press release as points in time, a social media release is really an evolving continuum,” says Jamie Turner, chief content officer with BKV Digital and Direct Response[4] and co-author of How to Make Money with Social Media[5]. “The reason for that is that even if you do a social media release that goes out and targets everyone, the nature of social media is that it moves so rapidly between people and the conversation quickly grows organically. You have to engage yourself and evolve the conversation as it’s happening, rather than standing by waiting to see what the reaction is.”

In this guide, we will explore what defines a social media press release, the biggest mistakes made in social media releases, and how to measure success of a social campaign via engagement and effectiveness.


How to Write a Social Media Press Release: What is a Social Media Press Release?

Regardless of whether you are writing a press release for traditional mediums or for social media, if your audience doesn’t find the content informative, useful or helpful, it doesn’t matter how hard you try or what the format is-;you simply will not succeed.

Noted social media blogger Brian Solis wrote the definitive guide to social media releases[6] in 2008, and his definition still stands true: “A social media release should contain everything necessary to share and discover a story in a way that is complementary to your original intent; but, the difference is, how they find it and the tools they use to share and broadcast. Social media is one big extension to the web, except it promotes voices, along with content, in a way that focuses on people and their social networks.”

The advancements of the Internet and of social channels has made the traditional format of a press release less effective as journalists, press members and readers crave small chunks of succinct details that incorporate social media, linking and multimedia to make it more digestible and relevant. The quicker, easier and more creatively you can get your point or message across, the more likely it is to be picked up, shared, re-tweeted, or more. And one thing you should not overlook is the use of keywords. It will help your search engine optimization and get your point across quickly yet effectively.

“The pivotal change is that the consumer owns as much of the message of your brand as any traditional vehicle,” Turner notes. “Whereas PR professionals used to target journalists to get a story placed, a social media press release is about targeting three different people: journalists, bloggers and most importantly consumers. It needs to make sense to all of them individually.”

How to Write a Social Media Press Release: Elements of a Social Media Press Release

Once you’ve determined that you need to write a press release incorporating social media, if you have an understanding of traditional releases, it shouldn’t be hard to grasp the essential elements that need to be included. You can talk to five different PR professionals and they’ll tell you differently where these elements need to fit into your release, but they need to be there in some capacity.

1.    Headline: exactly as it says, focus on brevity. Get to the point and don’t try to be too creative. A few keywords should get the job done.

2.    Secondary headline (optional): If you have an extremely important nugget of information that you think will get users to read on, put it here. Otherwise, skip to the overview.

3.    Overview: A brief summary of the release and what you’re covering. This is where you will hook the reader or lose them, so keep it under two paragraphs, use keywords and put real thought into every single sentence.

4.    Body: The so-called meat of the release, this should be the news. Don’t scatter bias in here; just lay the facts out for what you are pitching (think about it like a journalist would, and cover the who, when what, where, why and how).

5.    Facts: You need some statistical data or bullet points to back up your claim from above. This information should be easily shareable so if someone wanted to pull this right out of your release, they could.

6.    About the Company: Very brief company bio with a link to your website, Twitter feed and Facebook fan page.

7.    Multimedia links: The social aspect of the release, this should include videos on YouTube, images, RSS feeds and more. You don’t want people to be driven away from your message, but you want to be seen as a useful resource.

8.    Relevant links: This is a good way to promote your company and what you’ve done a bit more. If you have related releases, include links to them here. While this particular product might not be a fit, if you’ve kept someone’s interest this long, they may find your other products of use.

9.    Tags: Recommended sharing methods, whether via social bookmarking sites, Twitter hashtags or Facebook fan pages.

10.    Contact: This may sometimes be overlooked, but don’t forget to include your name, email, Twitter alias and more. If you are willing to put all of that info out there and stand behind your release, it lends it a bit more credibility.

How to Write a Social Media Press Release: Biggest Mistakes to Avoid

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