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How to Add Social Media Engagement to Press Releases

Traditional press releases are taking new forms because of social media. They can no longer simply make announcements and spew marketing language. A press release must now be part of the conversation in social networks.

With the growth of social media and publishing tools at everyone's fingertips, the days of editors and producers serving as the gatekeepers of news have passed. Anyone can be a citizen reporter, creating and sharing news with friends, fans, and followers. This situation places reporters — and PR people — in precarious positions if they fail to adapt to the new ways of disseminating news.

Making your press release social is another way to become transparent. The more accessible your company news and information are to the general public, the greater level of trust and credibility you build. To give your press releases a better chance of being seen, and of bypassing the traditional channels of news publishing, you can

  • Include links to your social networks: These links allow members of the media to engage with your company online. Include links within the press releases that lead to additional content, to even more multimedia, and especially to all the major social sharing networks.

  • Share them on your blog and social networks: Putting this information on your platforms increases the opportunity for it being seen by your community and spread to other sources who might want to cover it.

  • Add social sharing tools to every release: That way, readers can share them easily with their connections.

  • Host them on the web: Most social-media–powered releases are now hosted on the web rather than e-mailed or faxed.

  • Use short, catchy headlines: Headlines in press releases should make sense, be relevant to readers, and be crafted with search engine optimization (SEO) in mind. A headline often becomes the content for your tweet or update with a link to the rest of the release.

  • Make it multimedia: A press release should contain images (perfect for Facebook and Pinterest) and even embedded audio and video files. Since the releases are hosted on the web, embedding multimedia like this to enhance them is a breeze.

  • Provide "tweetable" quotes: Content is consumed at a fast pace online. Pull out quotes and excerpts of your releases that have a maximum of 120 characters so that they're easily shared on social networks, especially Twitter.

When writing a press release, consider the story you're trying to tell. Storytelling is an important part of engaging in social media. Start there and use the elements of storytelling to convert a press release from a static document into a dynamic start of a conversation.

Just because your release is more "social" doesn't mean that you should disregard the best practices of press release writing. Good grammar, proper punctuation, and addressing "the six W's" of information-gathering — who, what, when, where, why, and how — are still essential parts of any well-written press release regardless of the distribution method.

Use social media release (SMR) tools such as PitchEngine and PressDoc to easily build press releases on the web with embedded social features at an affordable price. These tools are specifically designed to bring journalists and social media together and offer stats so you can determine who has seen your press release.

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