Press releases have been the main tool of the marketing and PR trade for as long as marketing and PR have existed. Originating from the early 1900s, the press release has undergone some superficial format changes but the underlying purpose remains almost unchanged.
However, in recent years the press release as we once knew it—a paper document sent to news publications in order to promote a company’s recent achievements—has undergone a major change. As the digital age has set in and many marketers have become eager to make the break into the world of internet marketing, SMRs or Social Media Releases have become the new way to spread the word leaving the power of the original press release questioned.
But what makes an SMR so special?
The main distinguishing feature that sets SMRs apart from traditional press releases is the array of multimedia elements that can be added to give the release more depth. You can add images and slideshows, audio and video footage, graphics, even webinars and podcasts. SMRs are designed to be easy to distribute and re-distribute as well as be more useful to the target audiences, all of which work online (bloggers, people on social media sites, online news sites and their journalists, industry websites, etc. ) As many industries and media outlets gravitate towards online it is increasingly important to be able to provide the extras they require in order for your release to not get left behind.
So the question remains, will charming SMRs replace the comparatively dull press release?
In my opinion there will always be a need for the traditional press release just as digital will never completely replace the need for traditional marketing methods. There is something to be said for traditional methods that have been around for years, and although some of them may be out of date and need tweaking to be brought into this century the fundamentals at their core remain important.
The reality of the situation is that PR and marketing professionals need to have a balance of both traditional and digital in terms of their releases, as there will always be people from both traditional and digital audiences, both online and offline, interested in your industry and if you don’t have that balance you will lose the attention of one or the other.
To establish which would be more beneficial to your corporation you need to determine criteria and metrics that can be measured and understood. A good general place to start is with measuring the number of follow-up queries received and editorial mentions.
Another good criterion that people often overlook is how many syndications your release achieved. The term syndication refers to your release being published on another website (typically a portal) with all attached multimedia and links, with no editing to the text. Although it is not editorial coverage, it can still be extremely valuable to your company as it extends the exposure of the information to further audiences.
The bottom line is that SMRs can be a beneficial accessory to your PR efforts if used with care as part of an integrated all-round strategy.
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