SEMA News - May 2009

By Joe Dysart

A Wider Reach for Company News

SEMA News-May 2009-Internet

One of the best examples of a web 2.0-enabled press release in action can be found at Marketwire.

With business communications moving at the speed of fiber-optic light for years now, it’s no wonder that the humble press release has finally caught up. Shaking off its dead-tree past for good, today’s reinvented press release is packed with a number of web 2.0 elements that make it much more interactive and, as some of the digerati might say, much more “web-viral ready.”

Readers accustomed to posting their opinions in blogs, MySpace, Amazon product-review forums and the like, for example, can now do the same on web 2.0 press releases, which sport their own “comments” sections right on the release. Info junkies, who regularly bookmark and share interesting news and other items on the dozens of social bookmarking sites that have sprung up on the web are given tools with a web 2.0-enabled press release that allow them to quickly bookmark the release with a service of their choice. And bloggers, who thrive on arcane tools, such as “permalinks” and “trackbacks” to make it easier for the blogosphere to seamlessly discuss breaking news, are pleasantly surprised to find that web 2.0-enabled press releases have these tools built in.

“In the last two years, there has been a sea of change in how the press release is viewed and utilized,” said Paolina Milana, vice president of marketing at Marketwire. “The once 400-word, all-text release has evolved into an interactive tool that incorporates multimedia elements, social media tags and bookmarks, in-release performance stats and feedback mechanisms.”

Brian Solis, principal at PR firm FutureWorks agrees: “It’s something that combines the best of traditional, new and social media and helps package a story in a way that works for different writers and users.”

One of the best examples of a web 2.0-enabled press release in action can be found here at Marketwire—a format that deftly incorporates virtually every web 2.0 tool you’d ever want in a press release on a single page. You can go to Marketwire for your own web 2.0-enabled press release, or you can simply put one together yourself. The following items are the key elements you’ll want to include.

Comments Capability: Enabling readers to post comments on your press release—the same way they post comments on a blog—can give the announcement more legs. A journalist or blogger who posts a comment on your release, for example, may in turn attract other journalists, bloggers and readers to your release, and so on. The feature also works as a consumer tool that makes it easier for the public to identify and share interesting content in the social networking communities, said Deirdre Breakenridge, author of PR 2.0 and president of PFS Marketwyse, a PR firm.

SEMA News-May 2009-Internet
Free tools, such as “AddThis,” enable you to offer links to more than three dozen social bookmarking services.

Social Bookmark-Friendly: There’s an entire subculture of info and news junkies on the web who regularly categorize and bookmark items of interest for themselves on free bookmarking services, such as Delicious.com and Digg.com. Adding quick links to these bookmarking services, which members use to store and share their links with others, offers your press release another opportunity to reach a wider audience. Free tools, such as “AddThis”, enable you to offer quick links to more than three dozen social bookmarking services.

Link-to-This-Page Button: This tool makes it effortless for a journalist, blogger or other reader to link to your press release from another website, article or blog. I regularly link to press releases, company PDFs and similar company info on the web in the articles I write.

E-mail This Page to a Friend: By now, most companies understand the power of word-of-mouth referrals on the web and have been using this tool on other pages of their websites. Including this tool on every web -based press release also helps.

Permalink: This is a fancy term for a link that will never be changed or moved. It’s the perfect solution for companies that like to feature new press releases on their homepages (a temporary location) while simultaneously storing the same press release in their archives (a permalink location). Journalists, bloggers and other opinion shapers like to include permalinks in their work on the web, since they can be reasonably confident that those links will last indefinitely.

Trackbacks: A product of the blogosphere, trackbacks are little snippets of code that let you know people are talking about your press release on another blog. In practice, the commenter—usually a blogger—cuts and pastes your trackback code into his blogging program, and the comment alert is sent back to your company press center. You can find a detailed description of trackbacks at “How Trackbacks Work”

Supporting Images/Video Links: There’s never been a better time to feature links to supporting digital images and video for a press release. The mainstream media is always hungry for news images; bloggers are even hungrier. In addition to offering standard links to images of corporate executives, you can also offer links to web video associated with the press release and to related web videos you’ve posted on YouTube.

Other Company Press Releases Link: A quick link to your company’s press release domain makes it easier for journalists and bloggers to easily dig deeper into the story.

Company Press Center Link: Offering an easy way for readers to get to the heart of your company’s publicity apparatus is another no-brainer.

Press Release RSS: A significant percentage of news hounds and info junkies now gather much of their news off the web with RSS (Really Simple Syndication) readers. An RSS reader is a lot like an e-mail reader, only it’s generally tougher to spam, which is why many info junkies prefer the technology. Your web designer will know how to quickly code your press release for RSS. Or you can auto-code a press release yourself in about five minutes with Ice Rocket’s free RSS Builder tool.

Joe Dysart is an Internet speaker and business consultant based in Manhattan, New York.
Voice: 646/233-4089
E-mail: joe@joedysart.com
Website: http://www.joedysart.com/

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