IABC Assumes Social Media Release Leadership Role

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IABC is assuming a leadership role in the development of standards to govern the creation and distribution of social media releases, a format for making company news available to reporters, bloggers and the general public. The social media release is a rethinking of the traditional press release, designed to take advantage of emerging technologies while also making it easier for people to share the company's news with others through their blogs, web sites or traditional media outlets.

IABC is assuming a leadership role in the development of standards to govern the creation and distribution of social media releases, a format for making company news available to reporters, bloggers and the general public.

The social media release (SMR) has been in development for two years, ever since online journalist Tom Foremski called for a change to the traditional narrative press release to accommodate the needs of those reporting on the Web, including the incorporation of multimedia elements, the addition of social media tools, and the development of tags that make it easy to find and use the information contained in a release. This visionary rethinking of the traditional press release is designed to take advantage of emerging technologies while also making it easier for people to share the company's news with others through their blogs, web sites or traditional media outlets.

The effort to create a standard for the social media release has been guided by a group of forward-thinking industry leaders in conjunction with the Social Media Club. Many organizations have recently introduced their own versions, employing a variety of standards. IABC seeks to consolidate these disparate efforts and promote a common format for online news distribution.

"IABC's involvement in this initiative will attract representatives from public relations agencies, press release distribution services, and the media," said IABC President Julie Freeman, ABC*, APR **. "By bringing this group together to develop an industry standard, IABC is playing a leading role in shaping how communicators reach their audiences for years to come."

Social media releases have been issued by a variety of organizations, such as Ford Motor Company, Gatorade, Coca-Cola, Cisco Systems and Novell. Key elements of social news releases include the following:

  •     Elements of the release, such as news, quotes, boilerplates and contact information, are separated into sections, with core news facts presented in concise paragraphs or listed in bullet format, making it easy to identify the news and copy-and-paste pieces of the release into an online article or blog post.
  •     Multimedia, including audio, video, screencasts, animation and images, are available for incorporation into online articles and blog posts.
  •     Social media tools are included, such as Technorati tags writers can use to see what others have written on the same topic, social bookmark accounts that make it easy to offer archives of relevant pages, and RSS feeds that enable writers to subscribe to updates.

In addition to helping establish the elements of the social media release, IABC will convene a new working group that will focus on the completion of a technical specification. This specification will ultimately result in a technical architecture for the social media release that can be built into a wide range of content creation and search tools, including blogging platforms, content management systems, and proprietary tools offered by wire services and public relations agencies.

According to Social Media Club Founder Chris Heuer, who formed the original working group, "We are excited to see the social media release get the attention and support of the IABC. Their stamp of approval on the concept will further the original idea and the input they will provide will most certainly improve the social media release and the practices professionals apply in creating them. Our original intent was to work with every professional communicator who shares an interest in seeing the industry evolve in the right direction--this intention is now becoming a reality."

"The first step is to assemble a working group that represents the scope of the industry," said Freeman. Among those who have accepted invitations to date are:

  •     Laura Sturaitis, Business Wire
  •     Jiyan Wei, PRWeb
  •     Dan Zarella, social media consultant
  •     Todd Van Hoosear, communicator and social media practitioner
  •     David Parmet, public relations counselor
  •     Jason Ryan, New Zealand public sector communicator

These individuals join the original members of the working group, who are committed to remaining involved. IABC is working to expand the group to include additional wire services and to obtain media representation.

Brian Solis, principal of FutureWorks PR and a blogger at PR 2.0, is an original member of the working group. Solis echoed Heuer's sentiment, "The social media release is a catalyst for not only providing a new tool to share news, information and content, but also creating a forum to discuss how to improve press releases in general. The whole point of this working group and aligning with the IABC is to create an official standard and process that the entire industry can understand and support, from creation to distribution to building stories."

"The creation of a standard for the social media release is an important initiative that addresses the evolving public relations profession and media landscape," said Jen McClure, executive director, Society for New Communications Research, a nonprofit think tank that focuses on the latest developments in media and communications. "The Society has been involved in this effort since its inception, and we look forward to continuing to support and contribute to this process through the continued participation of our Fellows Todd Defren, Shel Holtz and Brian Solis, as well as through our research and best practices programs."

Foremski, whose post criticizing press releases got the whole effort rolling, said, "It is great to see all the work that has gone into transforming the news release into something that reflects the use of the many new media technologies that we use everyday."
Other members of the working group include Shannon Whitley, developer of social media release tool PRX Builder; Todd Defren, principal of Shift Communications and developer of the first social media release template; and Shel Holtz, ABC, principal of Holtz Communication + Technology.

IABC is also working to consolidate resources on the social media release, which currently reside on multiple sites.

The social media version of this release is available at:
http://socialmediareleases.x.iabc.com/2008/03/01/iabc-assumes-social-media-release-leadership-role.

About IABC

The International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) is a global network of communication professionals committed to improving organizational effectiveness through strategic communication. Established in 1970, IABC serves more than 15,000 members in 70 countries and 100 chapters. For more information, visit http://www.iabc.com.

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