Press Releases Get “Social.” Um, no.

by Dan Blank on December 23, 2006

Is there anyone who doesn’t love a press release? Steve Rubel at Edelman PR is demostrating their new tool, StoryCrafter, that supposedly evolves the press release, and makes it social.

I know what you are thinking – how can a press release be “social”? Well I ask you – who hasn’t read a press release and wanted to spend more time with it. Perhaps make it longer, add more adjectives, and reward companies for saying in 500 words what could have been said in 10.

Edelman’s StoryCrafter tool actually seems to simply remove much of what makes a press release what it is today – and simply gives you an outline – the most salient points, along with links to related media, and the ability to comment.

I like the idea of public relations professionals making it easier for people to digest these. However, so much of what PR does is “sell” you on the idea. From a PR professional’s perspective – embracing the outline format like StoryCrafter simply removes all of the tools and skills that are used to help sell the story.

For the “social” part – the ability to comment on a press release, well, this alone does not make it social. Press releases, controlled by public relations practitioners and corporate offices, would be the last place where an actual discourse can occur. If someone announces a new product via a “social” press release, and someone comments that they have used it, and it does not live up to a claim – would that comment stay a part of the official press release. Would the PR agency allow this negative claim to become the source that other journalists and blogger report from? Doubtful – unless the agency is looking to lose clients.

Many love the fact that a site like Amazon allows users to post reviews – even negative reviews of a product because it helps them make better decisions as a consumer. When it comes to their own site though, people are uncomfortable with the slightest element that could make them lose traction with customers.

Jeremiah Owyang has these questions:

  1. What need is this meeting? What pain is this solving? what is broken?
  2. Why we need organized social media press releases?
  3. Is the current Word of Mouth Network broken?
  4. Why can’t Marketers join the conversation like the rest of us?

Steve answers these questions in the comments of his blog.

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