This weekend the definition of “social media” and the relevancy of the “social news release” had the blogosphere all a twitter. Everyone and their uncle appears to have weighed in, and it seems like it’s the PR folks vs. the web strategy folks, with a few journos thrown into the mix. Which makes me ask – whither the marketers?
Of course the blogosphere loves a good controversy, but are we all even talking about the same thing? Do we have to be?
I’m pretty agnostic on the social news release as I don’t find it particularly relevant to me as an interactive/ integrated marketing strategist. My goals are to reach and communicate with customers and prospects, not journalists. Journalists and trade media, in my business, are a by-product of a great campaign (or a really bad one). Can that evolve and change as “social media tools” become more ubiquitous and advanced? Sure it can, but marketing and communications 101 doesn’t go out the window…. I’m starting to hear whisperings of Web 1.0.
Btw, I have a serious quibble with calling communicating with customers “media”. It’s a social experience made possible by social media/ Web 2.0 tools, but I digress… another post… It’s not as if I’m browsing Flickr trying to buy a digital camera; I heard good things about the camera and am looking for pics and examples on the photo sharing tool…
The “internet” is not monolithic, nor is everyone who uses Digg or MySpace the same person who can be reached the same way. Claiming that there is no target audience anymore is ridiculous. If I’m selling beer I sure as hell don’t want to be on MySpace trying to communicate with 14 year olds. It still matters. Let alone all the regulatory issues that surround marketing and PR as Shel Holtz touched on. Most companies aren’t Web 2.0 start ups, and have to comply with multiple rules and regs that have been established over decades. Ford can’t release a vehicle in ‘beta’, nor can Labatt brush off the AGCO requirements and review by throwing up a MySpace page for Blue – it isn’t as simple as just having the company evangelist send out the word via blogs. The devil is in the strategic and tactical details where the brand meets its target audience.
Not everyone who blogs is Mike Arrington and needs scoops. Nor does each social news press release necessarily need to reach a blogger in order to be relevant. To me, it’s a quick one stop shop for journalists and others who want to stay up on a certain portion of a company’s news. Bloggers are far more likely to pick up on your release if it’s been mentioned in a more mainstream publication. Which is the point of the press release right? I don’t see many consumers (aside from the 1% of the 1% of bloggers who are in communications or tech) browsing PR Newswire and Digging releases. If anything, they’ll use your release and the social tools you provided to comment or fact check something the NY Times wrote and continue the conversation elsewhere.
There is a place for everything, including social media in press releases, as the Internet has proven so well the last 10 years. Why not just experiment and see what shakes out of the mix?
Update: Collin @ Radical Trust has a great post up about targeting your audience and integrating social media platforms – it helps to define the differences between enabling and creating the conversation.