Do we need a social press release?

by Mathew on January 20, 2007 · 4 comments

Jeremiah Owyang, a web strategist with Podtech, has gotten a debate going on the idea of the “social media press release” or SMPR (you know when something becomes an acronym that all hope is lost), which is an idea that some PR types have been tossing around for awhile. I think the idea, which my PR friend Ed Lee has written about before is essentially to update the traditional press release with social-media links and content.

Edelman has tried to push this particular train forward by putting out something it calls Storycrafter, software that is supposed to help companies put together social-media releases. But not everyone is sold on the idea — and frankly, neither am I. Stowe Boyd makes some excellent points in his post here, about how the SMPR is still more about talking at people instead of engaging with them in some way, and to pimp out the press release with tags and Digg links doesn’t really solve that problem.

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Jeremiah has some similar questions, saying: “Why are we formalizing the word of mouth network into these clean nice buckets? Isn’t the point of conversations to have them flow nice and easily? Is this a way for Marketers to infiltrate “Social Media” communities with a few clicks and graphics? Where’s the relationship building? Where’s the humanity?” Steve Rubel responds that the SMPR is a sort of intermediate step, to get clients to dip their toes into social media.

I know when Ed asked me what I thought of the SMPR that High Road put together for Weblo, I said I thought it was a good step, and I still think that. A baby step, perhaps, but still a step. Not everyone is going to jump feet-first (or head-first) into blogging. But I would also agree with Stowe and Jeremiah — and Brian Oberkich here and Jeremy Toeman and Dominic Jones — that it does not go nearly far enough. And it looks like my friend Tony Hung agrees with me.

More on the subject from Brian Solis, Scott Karp at Publishing 2.0 (complete with Breakfast Club reference) and from Chris Heuer at SocialMediaRelease.org, who says Stowe took things that were said at the Third Thursday get-together out of context and is deliberately trying to stir up controversy — which, knowing Stowe a little, I find hard to believe.

Update:

Shel Holtz, who was part of the Third Tuesday panel, has a long and thoughtful post, and Stowe has responded to Chris and others as well. In the end, I would agree with my friend Mark Evans that there is a place for press releases — social or not, as well as for blogs and pretty much every other kind of social media. A place for everything, and everything in its place. And Dominic Jones has a persuasive argument for why any kind of press release, social or not, isn’t anywhere near as good as a blog.

(cross-posted from my media blog — be sure to check out the comment from Amanda “Strumpette” Chapel)

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