Should You Post Press Releases In Social Media?

Everybody hates writing press releases.  They’re usually dull, self-serving, full of insider speak, silly acronyms and when the news is really important, it leaks well in advance of the official document.  Reporters hate reading them for the same reasons, and seriously, it’s hard to get excited about a new Vice President of Internal Communications at Burger World or the opening of another Stop-N-Lube in the greater Columbus, Ohio area.

But like annual physicals, new brake pads, and fresh vegetables, press releases are probably necessary.  Unlike pitches, which are targeted to specific reporters and particular outlets, releases are mass communication intended for the largest possible audience.  The basics were covered in a previous column here[1]

They are often distributed via PR Newswire[2] or Business Wire[3], companies that specialize in emailing to hundreds if not thousands of reporters along with algorithms that place the releases on sites like
Finance, important trade publications or other print and online sites.  More importantly, these sites know how to code these documents so the information you release ends up search engines. In addition, many small businesses send releases to their own list of reporters, bloggers, friends, family and customers.

To gain additional traction, businesses and social media experts have posted releases on social media websites.  Is it proper to announce new products on the same site where moms and dads post photos of the kids sitting on Santa’s lap?  Does it turn customers off, or because it’s free and reaches a large audience, is it stupid not to promote yourself on these sites?

Because the game is so new the rules are still being written, I asked a wide range of experts to answer one question – “Should you post your press releases in Social Media[5]?”  The responses range from yes to no to maybe to sometimes to possibly, but only in certain situations.  The answer depends on who you are and what you’re saying.  Let the discussion begin.

Stacey Acevero, Social Media Community Manager, Vocus/PRWeb[6].  “Companies should absolutely post their press releases to social media–but only if they have identified where their key audiences (customers, prospects, shareholders, investors, etc.) are and if they can reach them. Don’t spam your followers or other people on social media by posting releases that may be irrelevant to them. Post your release in relevant Facebook or LinkedIn groups that you are active in, or use related hashtags when tweeting it. One important thing to remember: just tweeting a headline and a link will get you absolutely nowhere. Social media is not a bullhorn! Create conversation around your news (your press release IS newsworthy, isn’t it?) by asking a question, making a joke or a thought provoking statement–any of these could do the trick. Sharing a statistic or tip to hook the reader into clicking your link is good bait, and part of that whole social aspect is incorporating pictures or video into your release to keep the reader on the page. Sharing the multimedia aspects of your release are way more effective than just a headline and a link, like I stated before. The press release has evolved and long gone are the days of faxes. People are searching for your news online, right now–and millions are using social media platforms to do so.”

Marcus Fagerlund, Area Director, North America West, Meltwater Buzz[7].  “We have clients that actually do both, and I think you have to take every press release on a case-by-case basis. For example if you are releasing financials I think it could send the wrong message if released in Social Media, since these matters are considered more ‘official’ and probably contains more sensitive information. On the other hand if you are a company in B2C for example, you can fuel the ‘brand-ambassador’ community by letting them ‘know first’, and release it to them prior to the official outlets such as the various wires out there. This way the community feels more valued by the company, and this can also dramatically increase the reach since the majority of people read Social Media updates and not official press release wires – especially young people. So if you want to release a new consumer product to the public for example, use Social Media as well, and if you want to release company updates with regards to financials, mergers etc use the official channels.”

Charlene Kingston, Social Media DIY Workshop[8].  “Thanks to social media, businesses have other ways to reach the public, ways that bypass the traditional media. Today, a business can create a press release every time it has news that could be deemed newsworthy by its customers and potential customers. The value of the message is determined by a different audience, one that is interested in the business and not just concerned about limited print space.  I believe that every business should create social media press releases every time they have significant news for their target audience. What rates a press release instead of a blog post is subjective, and it is up to each business to make those distinctions. A business that rings the social media press release bell too often trains its audience to ignore press releases. But used carefully, a social media press release can be an effective way to educate your target market.”

Neal RodriguezOnline marketing expert[9], blogger.  “When you post a press release, the distribution system for which you pay is supposed to do the work for you; so there shouldn’t be a need for you to somebody else’s job. But if somebody is working with you, wouldn’t you give him a hand if it doesn’t take much of your time? It may be a redundant effort; but I don’t think anybody really cares. Point blank: you don’t need to post a press release on social media; but are you going to get shot if you do? Unless the press release is claiming you poisoned Michael Jackson, I doubt it.  An alternative tactic would be to post a press release and link it back to the content that you are promoting on your website; like a new video, contest, or application or research or whatever. Then you post the link to your website on social media. Just think of your objective, which is promoting your own digital asset, not the press release. The Gods will smile.”

David Meerman Scott,  Lecturer, Author, The New Rules of Marketing and PR (Third Edition)[10].  “No. Press releases are a great form of content to publish but they are really only good for two things.  They are good for reaching members of the media, particularly when you’ve got something interesting to say. And if you publish the press release through your own website plus one of the press release distribution services, then those press releases will be ranked by the search engines, so they will be found.  So from that perspective you are doing two things.  You get the first benefit and the added benefit on your site and a recognized news release distribution service.  The reason it’s important to do both is a company cannot get their news directly into Google unless it comes from a recognized distribution news service.  Press releases are not a good idea for social networks, the formality of a press release with headline, sub-headline and text is not the sort of formal communications that works well in social networks.  Don’t use a press release format, re-purpose that content into a more informal piece of content, from a blog post, which is what I recommend.”

Jennie Smythe, Founder, Girlilla Marketing[11].  “Every company is unique and therefore should have a unique voice online.  Social networks are supposed to be social and interactive, so generally a first person account is always most compelling. Share the news of what’s in the release, but personalize it. Then link to the release from your website or an outside outlet.  If you are just posting to post without the intent to have a conversation or a mutually beneficial relationship, don’t bother posting.  Like with any ‘real’ relationship, if you only talk and don’t listen… you are rude.”

Great advice from the experts.  I tend to agree most with David Meerman Scott, as I never post releases to Facebook and rarely do so for LinkedIn or Twitter unless they are heavily edited and significantly shortened.  Stacey, Marcus, Neal and Jennie are correct in stating that if you must post releases,change the format to a more conversational tone.   To sum up:

Facebook – Rarely, almost never.  Make sure the news is BIG.

LinkedIn – Sometimes, with short intro and a link.  Better for groups.

1 2