It seems as if the buzz around social media is not dying down. For several years now, it has taken front seat in the rollercoaster that is online public relations, marketing, and corporate communications - and it really shows no signs of stopping. During a quick search on Google News, I found that the number of news stories with “social media” in their headline has jumped from 199 in 2006 to more than 700 in 2008. Obviously, mainstream media is paying attention to this upstart phenomenon that, quite frankly, isn’t all that new.
Remember when blogs used to be called Message Boards or Forums? Remember when MySpace, Facebook and LinkedIn used to be called The Well? Social media and all of its new terminology have captivated the Internet’s youth, and slowly, but surely have worked their way into mainstream media, traditional journalism, and yes public relations and your online newsroom.
There are several core components to social media that are included in an online newsroom. They include RSS feeds, multimedia (video, podcasts, and photos), blogs, and social media widgets. By taking advantage of the tools and features that are built into an online newsroom, you can begin utilizing social media within your existing marketing and PR campaigns.
One of the first and oldest components of social media is an RSS feed. Ensure that not only your press releases, but also other assets such as photos, audio, video, press kits, news coverage, investor relations information, and executive bios are included in your RSS feeds. Also, ensure that you categorize your RSS feeds so that subscribers can get only the information they want. If you have press releases that focus on products, services, community relations, or financial information, make sure that your RSS feeds have those same categorizations. Here are some good examples of organizations utilizing RSS feeds:
One of social media’s biggest opportunities comes with multimedia, in the form of video (vidcasts), and audio (podcasts), in addition to photos, pictures, images, and logos. By making all of your organization’s multimedia assets available for download, sharing, and bookmarking, you are giving news outlets and journalists what they are looking for, and ultimately should receive increased quality coverage. There are countless examples of companies big and small utilizing the audio, video, and image components of social media to great success.
The important part is to ensure that you’ve uploaded all of your video, audio, and image assets into your online newsroom in conjunction with uploading them to YouTube and Flickr. By centralizing all of your assets in your online newsroom you are then able to monitor and report on how well the various campaigns are doing in terms of viewership, links, trackbacks, and overall traffic and interest.
Another essential component of your online newsroom is the blog. If your organization has decided that you need to have a blog as part of a social media campaign, your online newsroom is the perfect place for it. By including assets from your online newsroom directly into your blog, you will be able to more efficiently manage and monitor who is reading and looking at your information. Within your online newsroom you can also have several blogs, managed by different personalities inside of your organization. This again, allows you to centrally manage everything from within your communications center. Good examples of corporate blogs include:
Finally, as part of any press release or other press content that is maintained on your online newsroom, the social media widgets should be present. Displayed in various fashions, the widgets provide a mechanism for people to share and bookmark your organization’s information. For journalists, investors, analysts, product enthusiasts, or potential customers, this is a good thing, and allows your organization’s information to be distributed by the social media audience. There are several large social media sharing and bookmarking sites such as Digg, Delicious, and StumbleUpon. There are; however, many more, and some of them may be targeted in your industry. So do some research to figure out which ones might apply for you and your organization.
In closing, social media has certainly been around for a while. The first message boards, video, audio and image sites on the Internet began in the mid-to-late 1990’s and have evolved greatly since that time into the social media landscape that we have currently. By using features and tools in your online newsroom to help centralize, manage, distribute, and monitor your organization’s public relations and marketing campaigns, you can participate in the social media buzz. If done consistently and effectively, you will see great success in helping to extend your organization’s brand and reputation worldwide.