by Leslie Goldstein
When I think of how social media has impacted my professional and personal life, the notion of brevity, accessibility and timeliness come to mind. This constant state of being connected and exposed to concise bits of news almost as it happens and sharing this information with others is pretty much our day-to-day existence. I believe that the present day media release is shaped by social media in much the same way.
The new style of media release often has reporters writing for the web which influences the length of the release and the way it’s broken down into concise, well-written paragraphs. Headlines are poignant and grab your attention. And since the focus of the content has shifted to meet the reader’s needs, the mass consumption of media or “push” media has been replaced with “personalized consumption” or “pull” media.
I would say a natural by-product of the “pull” media consumption trend is the story-telling format of the media release. In fact, story-telling is at the core of the digital media release. It’s no longer just about recounting the facts and injecting emotional elements through quotes as traditional press releases have done. With the impact of social media, telling the story first and making it a conversation with your audience is necessary for audience engagement. Examining how social media impacts the digital media revolution, Vocus’ 2013 State of the Media Report highlights that, “Engagement has become a main reason that many journalists choose to use/follow social media on a regular basis because it connects viewers/readers on a more personal level with the journalist covering their community.”
A number of PR experts still tend to agree that the traditional long form press release is not dead, but is being shaped by the digitization of media. According to the article, “The Future of Public Relations and Social Media”, written by Erica Swallow and posted on Mashable’s website, although the traditional long form press release appears to be here to stay, “it will continue to be influenced by the brevity and accessibility of social media”. In this same Mashable article, PR expert Amanda Miller Littlejohn commented on the importance of enabling readers to interact with and share media releases. “While I don’t believe the press release is dead, it has been transformed, to become this living, breathing thing. If a release doesn’t have a social element – that is, a way for viewers to comment or share to their social networks – it doesn’t have legs.”
About eight years ago, I remember having discussions with the PR Manager at that time about the writing of press releases and the ways to promote business aviation news that would give it legs. The press release was written in the traditional format with main headline, body copy recounting the facts, quotes providing the emotional element and the boilerplate. Aside from distributing the press release on the newswire, it was the outreach to the journalists and the trade publications that occupied a lot of this PR manager’s time. These relationships were cultivated over many years, but they were the primary mechanism in getting the company’s news and messages out to its target audiences. The trade publications in which the journalists’ articles were and continue to be published are well-respected in the business aviation industry, so the news stories and feature articles would presumably have a direct impact on their audience. I say presumably because there were no digital measurement tools in place eight years ago to capture and analyze the data. Measurement was about collecting news clippings and tracking all of the news articles published in the various trade magazines and trade show publications.
In today’s digitization of the media, the human factor is key to the media release process. Not surprisingly, this human element is just as relevant for the traditional press release. The media release will still be sent to the essential media contacts, but communicators now cast their media nets wider using social media platforms. Account supervisor at Edelman Digital, Kelly McAlearney aptly comments in Mashable’s article on the significance of fostering relationships with influencers. “Regardless of how an announcement is shared – via wire, blog post, tweet, or otherwise – the critical step has historically been, and will remain, the human element. By directly reaching out to key media and influencers with whom we maintain relationships, we’re able to ensure their timely awareness of the news.”
Letting Go of the Words: Web Content Writing that Works, Janice Redish, 2014
“The Future of Public Relations and Social Media”, Erica Swallow, Mashable.com, 2010
“Trials, tribulations, and the impact of social media and the media industry”, State of the Media Report, Vocus, 2013