Posts Tagged ‘social media release’

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?

Could SEO Devalue News Releases Even More?

On a recent episode of Marketing Over Coffee, Christopher Penn and John Wall mentioned something that made me stop and think – the idea of people issuing news releases for the Google juice.

Too much jargon

Beware of jargon That idea worried me. To be more specific, the possibility of too much search engine optimization (SEO) in news releases further devaluing the tactic worried me.

The problem: I often hear that we should be inserting keywords into our news releases so that they rank highly in search engines for those keywords.

That sounds great in principle, right?

Right up front: I like the concept of the social media release. I’ve issued them, I worked on moving government news releases towards that format, and I’m a member of the Social Media Release Working Group (although that seems to have gone quiet recently… Bueller?).

SEO sheep

My problem with this, as with many SEO principles in general, is that people will take it to an extreme. They’ll follow the advice like sheep and will force inappropriate keywords (read: jargon) into their writing, and their products (and clients) will suffer.

Sure, these releases may rank highly for some words but so what? People arrive, see a poorly written release or page, fail to find what they want and leave. It’s a cheap tactic – one that’s no better than spamming people with emails. That’s why I heard a well-known marketing personality refer to a recent  SEO conference as “the underbelly of marketing.”

Just write well

Why not just make sure that your release is relevant, well-written and on-topic? A well written release will have plenty of the important words in there as a natural result. With a little extra attention you can optimize your release without compromising its quality.

I don’t want to read a news release front-loaded with every possible keyword under the sun. I want to read about the news.

The problem is bad enough for regular websites, but it’s doubly serious for news releases. News releases as a tactic already have a bad rap after years of abuse by poorly trained or lazy public relations practitioners. We don’t need yet another reason for people to hate them.

Too cynical?

Am I being overly cynical in thinking that people will jump on the extreme SEO bandwagon with news releases? Unfortunately, I don’t think so. Look at the trends:

I don’t see the trend changing. As online news releases take off (even more likely given the recent SEC decision), I expect to see even more releases full of jargon. I expect those of us working at more enlightened firms to watch in dismay as the trend continues.

Are SEO-optimized releases a bad thing? No. Of course not. You want people to find your announcements. That’s half of the benefit of online news releases. I appreciate the benefits of genuine, well implemented SEO.

My fear is that, as in the past, poorly trained or careless people will take a good idea way too far. We’ll see even more releases loaded-up with popular keywords and we’ll all get dragged through the muck as a result.

The only solution I see (apart from the trend reversing, of course) is for agencies and corporations to train their PR people well so they don’t think this is a good idea. Will that happen? Again, history shows mixed results.

What do you think?