There's a lot going around in the blogosphere these days regarding "social media press releases." These are press releases that incorporate various structural and linking features in order to facilitate certain types of human and automated indexing and communication behaviors. Some of these behaviors fall into the general category of "social networking" and that's why, I think, these are referred to as "social media press releases."
The goal, as I understand it, is to increase the likelihood that a given press release's message will get through to targeted individuals and groups.
Some folks view this as an effort to "breathe life" into a dying practice. Others point out that anyone who is web-savvy can implement a special media press release strategy without going through traditional intermediaries such as "newswire" companies and public relations outfits.
Not being a PR person myself I can't comment on some of the more political and industry specific issues that are being discussed. As an "outsider" though my take on the issue is pretty simple:
- If someone wants to construct and pre-structure a message in ways that makes it easier for existing search engines, rating services, and (human) influencers to pick it up and pass it along so it's more likely to get in front of a target set of eyeballs, I say go for it.
- If someone wants to take advantage of the increasingly social nature of the web and is willing to live with relinquishing some control over the nature of how the message will be treated, that's fine with me too.
In some ways this is no different than enhancing the likelihood that your own web page will be indexed with and retrieved by certain keywords. Basically, you're taking advantage of the communications infrastructure that is evolving to extend the reach and focus of your message.
What i find interesting about the situation is not the blogospheric huffing and puffing that's going on, it's the realization that people are taking advantage of the ability to introduce more structure onto a channel that used to be characterized by just a few players and a fairly straightforward production and supply chain (PR people working with clients to get the message out via available media).
Things are so much more complex now than they were in the days of two-newspaper cities and three major broadcast TV networks. Not to pay attention and not to adapt to how people are communicating and building relationships would seem at best to be a "head in sand" response.
Also interesting is that we have advanced so far in our communication of information content via the web that we can seriously entertain the idea that a standard might emerge for structuring such messages so that, for example, an electronic press release will have certain regulatory compliance significance or could automatically be viewed as a specific type of communication originating from a specifically named entity.
I am reminded that at one time in the past the idea that EDI standards for electronic interchange of detailed product information was viewed as science fiction. Now modern industrial supply chains cannot operate without EDI. As we stumble towards a world where communications are tied into an interconnected semantic web, will we also see similar kinds of structure evolving in our personal and social communications?