First Impressions of PRX Builder Social Media Release Plugin

There’s lots of interesting stuff going on with social media releases right now. First, we have the news from last week that IABC is sponsoring development of standards for this new format. Business Wire and PR Web have already jumped on-board.

Today, on a different scale, we have a new tool to help practitioners implement social media releases.

Shannon Whitley, a member of the existing social media release working group, today released a WordPress plugin to embed PRX Builder into your WordPress blog.

I’ve only had a short time to play around with this tool, but my first impressions are good.

(Note: this post is a little more down-in-the-reeds than most of my posts. If you aren’t familiar with the social media release, you may want to read The “Social Media Press Release” Debuts, Elements of the Social Media Release, and scan the Social Media Training Wiki page on social media releases)

The Basics

If you haven’t encountered it before, PRX Builder is a tool for creating social media releases. With their interactive multimedia content, social media releases can be daunting. PRX Builder takes that complication away and makes creating social media releases as simple as filling in a form (the only thing it doesn’t do for you is write the content – I’m afraid you still have to do that).

For all the simplicity of creating the actual release, PRX Builder is still intimidating when it comes to the original set-up. The homepage is full of enough talk of APIs and PHP to dissuade non-technical users. There was some integration with MS Office and with WordPress already, but it was somewhat confusing.

Good news: The new plugin removes even that barrier.

Setting up the plugin is no different to installing any other plugin in WordPress.

Using The Plugin

Once you’ve installed the plugin and set up an account (no personal information required), the plugin walks you through nine steps to creating your release.

Isn’t nine a lot? No, because each of those steps is broken down to its basics, making them easy to complete if you’ve done your preparation work for the release. What’s more, you can save and come back to the release at any point.

The icing on the cake: PRX Builder plugin lets you modify

The nine steps:

  1. Start – set up the basic details for the release
  2. Contact – input the contact details for your spokespeople
  3. Text – enter the core content for your release
  4. Categories – optimize the release for search engines (the plugin links to some useful articles) and select categories for it
  5. Links – create links for the “Related Links” section of your release. Again very easy – you can event import them from del.icio.us
  6. Multimedia – link to multimedia content that will be integrated into the release. You can easily import from YouTube and Flickr, but you can use other media forms too
  7. Quotes – attributable quotes for the release
  8. Boilerplate – standard text for the end of the release
  9. Finish – select your release’s template, set a few last options and choose how to distribute your release (PRX Builder integrates with PR Newswire if you want to go that route)

With those nine steps done, you’re done! And you didn’t need to do anything except fill in text fields. Easy, huh?

Screenshots (click to zoom)

Start screen Text screen
Links screen Multimedia screen
Finish screen

A Few Tweaks

I did notice a couple of things that could be tweaked to make the tool more accessible:

  • Plain language – in general the plugin explains things well, but there are a couple of places that it does fall short, notably the ‘Finish’ screen. The text assumes that users know exactly what’s going on in terms of technical details, which may not be the case. The experience could be improved somewhat by explaining some of the terms, options and processes better.
  • Support – this plugin is way more complex to use than most of the others I’ve encountered. This is fine, as it’s a complex process and the tool does an admirable job of simplifying it to the point it’s at. Still, more comprehensive support documentation would be useful throughout.
  • Other wire services – this is as much a call to the wire services as to Shannon Whitley. At present, PR Newswire (along with PRX Builder’s own distribution service) is the only wire service that works with PRX Builder. It would be great to see services like Marketwire and CNW get on board with this.

As I said at the beginning, I haven’t had a chance to play around too much with this tool yet, but it has great potential and I plan to use it more fully at my next opportunity. I’ll report back in at that point.

Have you explored this plugin, PRX Builder? What did you think? What do you think of social media releases in general?

  • I can’t wait to give this plug-in a try! Shannon’s a wizard who apparently doesn’t sleep, and we all benefit from his hard work.

  • Dave,

    Thank you for taking the time to give the plugin a try. You can be sure that I’ll take your comments to heart and work through your suggestions.

    Very much appreciated!

  • This is neat. If I have a blog already, why would I use this plug-in? I can write something, put in some quotes, throw up some youtube videos and flickr photos.

  • Hi David,

    You can definitely hand-tool your social media release on your blog. Some people might prefer that approach, however, there are a number of additional features in PRX Builder that can make the overall process easier. I’ve highlighted a few below:

    * Automatically inserts microformat code into the release, including hCard. This can make it easier to access specific elements of the release. A simple example: a journalist could quickly import the contact information into a contact database without having to cut-and-paste text.
    * Allows you to import items from delicious, Flickr, and YouTube without having to touch a line of code.
    * Includes multiple templates that can be changed on-the-fly. Select the best format for a particular message.
    * Multiple distribution options. Send your release to other blog sites, email, Twitter, Facebook, PRX Releases.com, and PR Newswire.

    For some people, having the process broken down into steps can be an important feature. Users can focus on writing, while leaving tasks, such as the insertion of quotes, for a later step.

    So I’d agree that you can roll your own release, but for those who are new to social media, or for those who want some of the process automated and organized, PRX Builder can be a very useful tool.