CNW Group Unveils The CNW Social Media Release

CNW Group logoDisclosure: CNW Group is a client of my employer, Thornley Fallis. However, I have had no involvement with their account to-date and I have not been asked to write about this topic. These opinions are mine alone. If you’ve read this site for a while, you’ll know that my interest in social media releases goes back to way before I joined Thornley Fallis and I’ve written about them many times.

CNW Group has made some big strides forward in its online services recently. In its latest move, the company has released a new social media tool, the CNW Social Media Release.

If you’re not familiar with the concept of the social media release, it’s a new format for news releases that takes advantage of the linking, multimedia and social media capabilities of the web to make news accessible to reporters, bloggers and the general public. Social media releases combine text, video, audio, images, RSS, tagging, social media sharing tools and/or comments into one document.

As Brian Solis said in today’s announcement, “Social media releases can complement your outbound communications strategy by bridging your story with the people you’re trying to reach.”

CNW produced an excellent video to explain their new service:

Seven things I like about CNW’s service:

  • CNW recognizes that the social media release is just one tool — “an add-on to your traditional news release.” I’ve written about this before – social media tactics should be a considered addition to your product mix rather than a replacement. Parker Mason, Web Content Specialist at CNW Group, emphasized that tonight when I spoke to him about CNW’s service, saying “[…] you can’t ignore the traditional side.”
  • While the “newswire” still isn’t equipped to handle multimedia content, CNW will distribute an advisory to traditional media over the wire to alert them to the social media release. This is included in their standard social media release service.
  • The service permits two-way conversations via comments that are featured on the release itself rather than on a separate page. As Parker says, “If one person has a comment (negative or positive) about your organizations announcement, chances are others will as well.” CNW’s service lets you respond to those comments directly on the release. Critically for some people, you can also turn comments off if you want to.
  • The comments come complete with their own RSS feed and a comment policy (which I recommend for anyone who allows comments on their site – mine is here).
  • The standard price for the social media release includes one video, one audio clip and three images. Some other services charge to include these features.
  • The template is provided in both English and French – great for Canadian companies.
  • All of the multimedia features are embeddable.

CNW is the latest company to offer the social media release as it moves slowly from a niche market towards the mainstream (others include Marketwire, PR Web, PR Newswire and Business Wire). The company updated a chart produced by SHIFT Communications’ Todd Defren comparing social media release services to reflect their new release:

In case that’s not enough for you, CNW has also updated an excellent white paper produced by Ted Skinner and Michael Pranikoff of PR Newswire on the benefits of engaging traditional media and social media for a Canadian audience. The paper alone is worth a post here — it’s a great primer on online PR — and it’s available for free through CNW’s Social Media Release site. If you’re new to this topic, download it and read it.

Check out CNW’s announcement or find out more about the service.

From first impressions, I think CNW has done a great job with their social media release.

What do you think?

  • Interesting. Seems a lot like http://pitchengine.com except PitchEngine is free.

  • Hi Jason… I haven’t forgotten about PitchEngine – I plan on checking it out very soon too.

  • Hi Dave

    Blogged in French on this subject – basically, I see this as evolution rather than revolution, which is fine. The added features are nice (and reflect most of the change requests made by Third Tuesday Montreal members when we asked them to comment on our May release announcing our Shel Holtz event). So comments, tags, all good. I hadn’t noticed the RSS feed, which they had also requested, so thanks for pointing that out.

    I have a few reservations about the look and feel of it – mostly because of the jumble of fonts and font sizes on the page. I’d also like to see the comments moved out of the main body of the release and sense that the links to bios and blogs (see our release) are too discreet to be noticed.

    Details like photo captions should be addressed. I’d like to know, at a glance, which photo is Mme Guillot and which is Ms McGill-Davidson. I imagine journalists, doubly so.

    The Related Content tool is very nice, but apparently only available in English … if it doesn’t exist already for the French, it would be nice to see it follow quickly. I’d also like to be able to link back to the incoming links on Technorati.

    Maybe you can answer a question I have : is the 76 design logo at the bottom of each press release going to be standard going forward? With all due (and sincere) respect to Joe and Terry, I don’t see PR agencies doing handstands over seeing a competitor’s logo at the bottom of their client’s press releases.

    It’ll be interesting to see if there will be any market (or should I say Marketwire) reaction to this announcement.

    Link to my post, should anyone care to read the original French text as opposed to this summary : http://eminencegrisemontreal.blogspot.com/2008/08/cnw-lvolution-du-communiqu-de-presse.html

  • p.s. For the sake of transparency, I should also state (for anyone not able to read my French post) that CNW sponsors Third Tuesday Montreal, which I launched earlier this year with a great group of volunteers/colleagues. My comments are my own, and do not reflect upon them or upon Third Tuesday Montreal.

    Disclosure done!

  • Let me start about by saying (in the interest of disclosure) that I work for CNW Group and worked a great deal on the launch of our Social Media Release. I did not work with Dave on this at all, and even though we are a client of Thornley-Fallis he was not involved in this project.

    Michelle – you raise a number of good points. I particularly agree with you about the need for photo captions, and this is something we will work to include as soon as possible.

    As far as the comments on the release go, we felt that this was a necessary step in the evolution of the news release. By including comments on the body (rather than somewhere else, as others have done) we are allowing the conversation to take happen in the same place as the news that is happening. This is a benefit for the organization issuing the release, as they get to respond in an official capacity directly and have it visible to other visitors. In recognizing that the comments feature isn’t for everyone, we have made it an opt-in feature.

    I understand your concern about the 76 logo being at the bottom of the page. However, we feel that it is clearly separated from the rest of the content via the horizontal line. Similarly, the logo for our Social Media Release is separated from the page content at the top by another horizontal line.

    The Related Content tool exists on the French version, and should be there. If you continue to have problems with it displaying (or if anyone else does!) let me know.

    If you’ve got any further questions, feel free to get in touch with me by email or, hey, even comment on the release.

  • Great idea to do add the features to @tdefren’s original comparison chart. Wonder where they got that idea from?

    http://www.prblogger.com/2008/02/smnr-features-comparison/

    🙂

  • Pingback: Mom blogs, web 3.0, orange papers and social media releases « PR Research()

  • @Parker

    re: I’d also like to see the comments moved out of the main body of the release

    My apologies – my brain was still working in French when I translated the essence of the blog post.

    Comments should definitely remain on the main page – I was actually referring to quotes, here .. as in the Shel Holtz quote. I would have liked to have had the option of placing it off to the side.