Aaww, that journalist is trying to internet. How cute!

With the onset of the social media release (SMR), the ‘future’ of public relations has arrived. At least that’s the impression given by a range of PR sites spruiking their SMR services to the constantly evolving online media landscape.

Let’s step back for a moment into my world where I work as traditional print journalist. I trawl through hundreds of media releases and pursuits of media traction on a daily basis, however I can count the number of actual SMRs I have ever seen in my inbox on one hand.

Compared to the wordy formats of traditional releases, the multi-faceted format of the SMR, serving up facts, segmented quotables, photos, links, social media tags and videos is relatively innovative.

According to Cutting Edge PR, SMRs do not replace traditional media releases but are in fact “complementary”; traditional releases target traditional media while SMRs target social media, and can “open up dialogue in new ways”.

But what is a traditional journalist to make of this innovative? Do I have any use for it? Or perhaps the question should be ‘what can a purveyor of a dying format learn from the expanded capabilities of the SMR?’.

Currently traditional print media’s most valued social media function is its ability to direct readers to website versions of stories to keep traffic levels up, in preparation for the day we’ve survived long enough to work out how to turn a buck for our online product. Hold your snigger please.

(It’s also gives an open feedback for readers to respond to our work, such as this honest and insightful appraisal received yesterday. Thanks Web 2.0)

facebook photo

A key feature of the SMR, according to PR firm RealWire, is its multimedia and video offerings, which “can deliver a very effective message in a very engaging way”.

According to this bloke-heavy whiz-bang SMR sales pitch, “3 out of 4 journalists are much happier to receive multimedia content than the written word alone”. (The journo in me has a sudden urge to see their research methods)

Some traditional media such as The Age, through its online edition, are embracing these ‘more effective’ communication tools, through video packages at the beginning of major news stories, and noted increase in visualised ‘data journalism’.

However, the print product, along with the legions of regional newspapers whose circulation continues to decline, remain largely part of one way communication medium.

If anything, the apparent rise in popularity of social media releases should be yet another wake up call to traditional media, particularly print, that their modes of communication are quickly becoming outdated.

As a purveyor of print media, perhaps it’s time I got over my contempt for online PR buzz words and took a leaf out of the social media PR playbook, and equip myself with the skills and know-how to better engage in this Web 2.0 thingy.

Will keep a closer eye on my inbox for inspiration….


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