Archive for June, 2008

I did everything I could to resist the temptation of the ‘new shiny’ a year ago when I started seeing many ‘influencers’ move to microblogging (some even at the expense of their macroblogs). While Twitter exploded in 2007, I was still a doubter … and although it may yet fade, I was wrong about it. When I was blogging several times per day plus 5-7 days a week and got tired of it, I thought microblogging would be a bit of a stretch for me. However, sites like FriendFeed have made the idea and result of microblogging much more dynamic, robust and inclusive. Ironically, because of FriendFeed I now see the need for Twitter … but it’s too late.

March 2008
Total Users: 1+ million
Total Active Users: 200,000 per week
Total Twitter Messages: 3 million/day

Read the TechCrunch post and the comments for the whole dialogue

While some people say that Twitter has over 3 and nearly 4 million registered users, others will say that “Registered users is an absolutely meaningless statistic.” That is not to say that over 1 million registered users is small potatoes. In fact, of Twitter’s one million users, a good number of them are major influencers. From Michael Arrington, Robert Scoble, Dave Winer, Jason Calcanis and Om Malik to Steve Rubel, Chris Brogan and David Parmet, all of these major influencers are on Twitter … some of them even have over 20,000 followers! What does this mean? When each one of them updates twitter on what they are doing, thinking, reading or working on, that information will spread faster than it would anywhere else.

That said, Twitter is text based and too simple. It does not account for our entire online lives and would force us to integrate our other destinations into this platform. This is why FriendFeed could succeed. Rather than add a step to my online life, FriendFeed keeps track for me.

For example, I just posted 62 pictures to PicasaWeb (Google’s photo property). Rather than going to twitter and inputting that activity, FriendFeed already knew (though it could operate a little faster). Think about this on a larger scale … from sharing and starring news on Google Reader to uploading videos to YouTube, FriendFeed allows you to publish your online life … not just 140 characters.

Twitter is certainly better than FriendFeed at certain things, but I hope they view this as a major threat or else Twitter will be the next Friendster, and not just due to the constant downtime …

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The true dichotomy is the gap between wire services capabilities and copy acceptability.

We spoke a while back about “downstream blues” … the fact is the large majority of websites still display wire feeds in ASCII text or something very close to it. And, as all you fervent email pitchers know, many of the mainstream media publications can’t accept attachments or stream video, let alone render html on their workstations.

Not trying to coin a term or anything, but we got to get the term ‘social media’ out of everyones head as if the whole world’s media revolves around whether a blogger reads a press release. It is, and will be for a very long time, the opposite. The OmniMedia Distribution would cover all the bases and not piss ‘purists’ like Jeremy Pepper off.

When a company has something to announce, they don’t have the time, effort, budget or know-how to kill all the birds with one stone. They need to reach as many influencers as possible with the same content. This is where a splash page/mnr/smpr, blog post/microblog activity, purpose-built delicious page, clever mediaroom, visible wire, and good story come in.

Each big announcement needs to pull these realms together to ensure your outlets are covered. You could have everything set … but if it doesn’t get run re-run on the AP, Reuters, Bloomberg, NYT, etc., is your client going to be happy? Are they quantity focused or quality focused? Paper or screen?

In the techworld, TechCrunch, GizModo, Engadget, and Slashdot aren’t blogs any more. They are web publications with incredible influence and authority. This is progress. Strategy for each announcement has to be well-thought out … five moves ahead. Who gets the exclusive? Anyone? What tier blog should we not consider responding to? How do I define my tiers for this particular client?

  1. Press release blasted over the wire in a narrative form via a credible wire.
  2. Social Media Press Release with video, photo, documents, files, tags, links, comments, etc available at a splash page which is prominently featured in the blast press release (the higher the traffic to the site the better).
  3. Blog post from the company (preferably written by the product or group manager, if not the C-Suite) discussing the project, product, service, etc. in an informal way.
  4. Microblog campaign on Twitter/Friendfeed/etc. to discuss pitches, coverage, issues
  5. SMPR linked to the company’s mediaroom (as a pop-out, to preserve traffic).
  6. Del.icio.us page with all the company’s background info, white papers, positive coverage, press release, SMPR, etc.
  7. Interviews with key product managers/C-Suite/Celebrities on the launch and the product on every video site with the same headline as the OMR

There are probably a lot more things that are out now that can be included and there will certainly be more things in the future that can be plugged in … did I miss something? Thoughts?

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If I’m gonna launch this blog with a big post, might as well not tiptoe around much of the buzz I hear at every event I attend or presentation I give.

The Social Media Press Release is bullcrap. Allegedly the SMPR evolved out of Tom Foremski’s “Die! Press Release! Die! Die! Die!” post where he lambasted the press release in its current form. Enter the ever-clever Todd Defren with his template.

While including links to social networks and deconstructing the press release into bullet points is a best-practice, it’s still a press release… meaning: DOA, according to Foremski.

The press release used to serve one function: Deliver news from an organization to the media and markets as quickly, effectively and efficiently as possible. Over the last 15 years, the purpose of the press release has changed dramatically. From needing to meet disclosure (after all, public companies issue most of the press releases every day), to wanting to reach consumers directly; the press release has become a message for everyone. The true genesis of conversation. In fact, the press release is still a very valued tool among thousands of journalists worldwide that expect and require language directly from the company. Journalists will use the content, sometimes verbatim, in composing their coverage. The vehicle itself won’t garner coverage. Bullet points and isolated quotes won’t make a penguin fly. It’s the content that matters most. Whether the vehicle has been abused by some, if not all at some point, is also not the question.

Let’s put everything in perspective. The legs a press release has are only as long as its legs.You cannot waive a magic wand at an announcement and expect stellar coverage. You cannot put lipstick on a pig. But lipstick on a beautyqueen can win you a pageant.

It all starts with proper and aggressive counseling to our clients. Our clients should not be convinced that Marketers and Advertisers own ‘Social Media.’ ‘Social Media’ by its essence is conversation between at least two parties. Whereever there is conversation, exit Marketing and Advertising. They are in the business of push, or SPAM, really. Whether it be on TV, print, radio or billboards, they target you where you are and where you are likely not engaged (let alone their target audience). When PR practitioners engage in SPAM is where our discipline loses credibility.

Every press release, for the most part, is an opt-in endeavor. Whether they enter by search, ticker symbol, or via a web destination, Pubilc Relations professionals should be able to tell you exactly how many people clicked the link, how they navigated through the site, when and where there was a spike in traffic, and how many journalists viewed the announcement. When PR Newswire gives statistics back to clients, we don’t fudge or mislead in any way. Though those numbers don’t compete with cirulation and impression numbers given to you by advertisers and other vendors, our numbers are exact and measurable. Further, those people are very often influencers that rely on us to provide quality and breaking news from credible sources.

If there’s one thing you take away from this post: Concentrate on the horse then the cart. When it’s time to look into carts, don’t pinch pennies there … because that’s what takes you to the finish line.

UPDATE: Obscene language has been removed so as not to offend the squeamish.
Point of Clarification: I do believe vehemently that all assets, if they help tell your story, should be included with a press release whether it’s embedded video, a powerpoint presentation, excel file or logo. The term and the solution have become distractions.

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