How Social Media Has Changed the Press Release Game



 October 24, 2011
For as long as most of us can remember, the Press Release has been the prime method of communicating a company or brand’s corporate message. Sure, the delivery system has changed somewhat – it started as a letter, physically posted or handed to the newspaper; then the fax machine arrived and suddenly the press release was brought into the 20th Century. 

Releases could now be written and distributed immediately so messages could be sent out even quicker than ever. The 90’s saw the arrival of the Internet and all of a sudden releases didn’t have to be sent out at all. They could be placed on a company’s internet site and reporters, readers and fans could be drawn to it directly. The message could now be sent out in its most unfiltered form.

Fast forward another decade and Social Media is the newest and biggest game in town. Press releases can now be issued directly to engaged followers and fans and even more significantly they can respond back in real time with their genuine feedback and ideas on how to strengthen your message even further, or come up with a new message, one that resonates with the engaged media consumer.

This also raises other challenges for the modern press release writer. The medium delivering the release has changed so the release itself has to change. Twitter famously only allows 140 characters to a posting which means even a haiku writer would be challenged to get their meaning over in so concise a space but it can be used to post a link with a punchy, intriguing call to action to inspire the reader to click through.

Facebook offers a far more manageable 420 character maximum post length as well as dedicated link, video and image hosting capabilities. This allows the release to become fully functional with as much multi-media material as you wish.

The type of release for Facebook also has to be carefully considered. The writer has more space to use than Twitter but should consider the same rules as applicable – shorter, punchier sentences and paragraphs; keywords front-loaded at the top of the release – don’t forget that search engines crawl Social media sites too; and if images and videos are included then they should be tagged appropriately and accordingly.

This is where the writer has to be inventive. Instead of writing a three paragraph quote from a director or principal, why not post up a video of them speaking?

The game has changed, Social media is leading the way now and as sites rise and fall, the rules of the game are constantly changing too. It is up to you to keep up.

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