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A Wider Reach For Company News

Shaking off its dead-tree past, 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."

April 08, 2009

Shaking off its dead-tree past, 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.com product review forums, and the like 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 enable them to quickly bookmark the release with a service of their choice.

And bloggers, who thrive on arcane tools like "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 change in how the press release is viewed and utilized," says 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 FutureWorks, a PR firm, 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."

Anderson Construction Group, a commercial and residential construction firm, leverages Web 2.0 tools in its press releases to invite readers to leave a comment on its breaking news right there on the press release.

Web cruisers can also quickly click links in the press release to e-mail the news to a friend, make a quick printout, or bookmark the text on any number of social bookmarking services. 

Leopard Construction offers a similar array of Web 2.0 tools on its press releases. Plus, the company includes a link to its downloadable company logo, which can be used in news coverage, as well a link to a company white paper it is also using to promote itself online. 

And Metric Construction Corporation has gotten into the Web 2.0 game by adding a commenting tool to its press releases. 

Overall, probably one of the best examples of a fully outfitted Web 2.0-enabled press release can be found at Marketwire . Essentially, its Web 2.0 format deftly incorporates nearly every Web 2.0 tool you’d ever want in a press release on a single page.

If you’re looking to update your press releases into the Web 2.0 format, here 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, which makes it easier for the public to identify and share interesting content in the social networking communities," says Deirdre Breakenridge, author of "PR 2.0" and president of PFS Marketwyse, a PR firm.

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 like Del.icio.us and Digg. 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 like "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 on 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 website. 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 home pages, (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 or her 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 Link: There’s never been a better time to feature links to the supporting digital images and video for a press release. The mainstream media is always hungry for news images; bloggers are even hungrier. Besides offering the 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 your company’s 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 – or 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. Voice: 646-233-4089. E-mail: joe@joedysart.com. Web: http://www.joedysart.com.

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