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The Social Media News Release and News Room are Heuristic :: Help Us

This post is about the good ideas that have been generated re: PR, social media, news releases and more. What my students desire is to see how journalists are reacting to all of these new ideas. Media relations is, after all, a large part of many PR practices. We have yet to see any significant research (actually, no research at all) as to whether the new approaches will work. So help us, please.

An heuristic effort is one that “encourages a person to learn, discover, understand, or solve problems on his or her own, as by experimenting, evaluating possible answers or solutions, or by trial and error: a heuristic teaching method.” We need your help in pursuing research on the issues of hreleases and social media newsrooms.

What we are seeing in the hrelease, social media press release and social media news room efforts are experiential learning activities. It is collaboration. It is the essence of what this interactive conversational media represents. Just read the conversations it has generated.

I love these learning and experimental efforts. I’m often confused, even saddened, by the way they are so quickly written off by observers. To me, blogging and wikis and all of the interactive online dialogs are the best part of the WWW. In fact, the best part of blogging to me has been the wide variety of ideas and opinions it opens up to students. That is why I’m so happy that so many PR practitioners are choosing to blog.

So, whether we are talking about Todd Defren at PR Squared and his Social Media Newsroom Template or his “Social Media Press Release” Template; or, Chris Heuer’s Idea Engine and Brian Solis at PR 2.0 – Silicon Valley and all of the people involved in the Social Media Club … it is all one big collaboration.

Comments and input from those like Brian Oberkirch about “The Case for hRelease” and Tom Foremski’s rant on the press release and attempts to change it are all equally important.

Phil Gomes, Rick Murray and Ming Lee at Edelman have given us StoryCrafter and Shannon Whitley has given us PRX Builder.

Everyone is learning. I don’t think any of the participants in the collaborations actually purports to have all the answers. Now, my students want in on the action in a little deeper inspection of all these ideas.

What is the one of the important things that is missing? The research to see how journalists will react to these new ‘animals’ like the hrelease, newsroom and social media in the PR/Journalist symbiotic relationship, overall. My students have done research on social media adoption by newspapers. Now, this semester, they are embarking on research to see how journalists react to these new approaches.

Anyone want to participate? Want to help us, please?

Leave a comment and we can hook you up with the student group that is doing the research. Anyone that may provide contacts and introductions to national journalists in the top 50 newspapers, for instance, will likely help the students achieve a more successful survey effort.  In their previous efforts, it was easier to get through to the 51-100 top markets.

My hope is that three different research teams will focus on three different groups of journalists. Those are:

  • local journalists in a regional area, like Alabama, or any other state,
  • national journalists in the top 50 newspapers,
  • one specific trade group or market segment – to be determined.

What are your thoughts? This way we’ll have an idea of the viability in a large section of PR that seems to go unnoticed in these discussions – local PR practitioners and journalists. We’ll also address national media. The trade group, or market, can be anyone’s choice – as long as we can get to a significant respondent pool.

Wouldn’t it be nice to see if these people actually find benefits in all these new tools or approaches?  How about gathering their input as to ways the approaches might be improved to increase acceptance and adoption by journalists. Or, we might just find that they aren’t desired at all. Who knows … until we ask.

I’m just testing to see if merely posting this in a blog will bring in participants, by the way. We’re going forward with it regardless. But, we’d love to have help and guidance. Thanks.


  1. Hello! I am a PR student at the University of Oregon. We have also been exploring the development and relevance of the social media press release. It seems as though it has the potential to be an amazing tool both for organizations to convey their information, as well as journalists to find the information they need.

    I am fairly new to the whole concept, but recently our class was lucky enough to have a conference call with Todd Defren and we were able to pick his brain a bit about the impact that the smpr might have. I would be interested to see what your research teams come up with in regards to how journalists are adopting this technology.

  2. Great, Stu. I’m guessing you’re in Kelli Matthews’ classes there?

    I’m glad to learn of others that are doing the phone interviews in classes. We’ve found them to be very valuable.

    The SMNR, or whatever we end up calling it, may be quite useful. What we want to determine is how do they like it now, what would they change and do they think it will gain a foothold.

    Thanks for coming by. I hope you’ll continue to touch base with us along the way.

    Take care.

  3. With over 400 “vended” MediaRooms in place for companies of all sizes, we’ve regularly solicited feedback from journalists through surveys, advisory councils, phone interviews, etc. Our findings are proprietary and confidential, as requested by these high profile members of the media.

    With Tom Forenski an outstanding exception, very few journalists need more “bells and whistles” in a mediaroom. Something that I can share about our ongoing feedback is nearly all respondents focused on one or two key value propositions.
    1. The timeliness of the news (yes…the good ole traditional news release). They felt like a company that had a PR team that was actively updating content could be trusted. In our particular case, that means that the second the news release goes out over the wire it is posted automatically to the Mediaroom using proprietary feeds.
    2. The ability to sign up for email or RSS notification of these news releases. Email is still by far the preferred method and most of our respondents weren’t yet using an RSS reader but I’m confident that is changing. Although email is the preferred method…they only want it if they subscribe for it. Unsolicited emails or emails with news releases as attachments are “dead soldiers”…they won’t get through. That said, many many companies are still delivering them that way.

    Other assets, PR contact info, etc. were all mentioned as being nice…but again…the core value proposition revolved around the timely deliver of the company’s official news.

    This is the state of the industry now. It will change to be sure, but we tend to stay focused on what is demanded right now. As I’ve alluded to in many of my own posts…and one in particular on MarcomBlog, technology evolution is nice and we need to proceed with it, whether it’s the model of SMNR or another. But until “strategy” and “adoption” catch up…we’re all just speculating.

  4. Thanks, Dee. And I agree. I’m all for experimentation, but it really seems that some sort of publicly available research should be done to help rationalize, or redirect, the ongoing efforts.

    If nothing else, it will help the students understand what the issues are in this dog fight over the validity, or lack of validity, in developing a social media news release and newsroom.


  5. This is a great project! I wish you and your students much success.

    I’ve generated several experimental tools in an attempt to spur discussion around what is truly needed, but responses have been hit-and-miss. I hope that a concerted effort like this will produce the feedback that is necessary to guide us on a more focused path.

    In fact, I’m volunteering now to provide assistance if you need it. During your research, if your students come upon an idea that could be best presented through a prototype, let me know and I’ll see if I can help.

  6. Thank you, Shannon. We appreciate your offer of help and I’m betting we will be asking you for a prototype.

    Like Dee’s 400+ examples of the MediaRoom, we know you and also the newswires have examples of successful releases including these traits.

    So, we are going to be writing to all of you for advice and guidance. We realize, too, that some of this is proprietary. We don’t want to interfere with that at all. We do hope to gain insights which will guide us toward the right questions to ask, though.

    One of my favorite aspects of this is the difference between the interest levels of national versus local / regional media. I have my speculations as to what the answers might be, but I’d like to see the real deal from the view of those actively participating in those areas.

    Thank you.

  7. While reading about “hybrid blogs” – text, video, audio, photo/image all in one – and the ability for comments to include video responses, I thought I’d test this here on this post.

    Anyone can post to YouTube, Revver, Google Video, etc. with videos. WordPress has, for some time, offered the ability to post videos from those sites with the simple inclusion of a bit of code.

    My point is, a news release or social media news room has allowed the ability to comment with video for at least one year, if the platform was created with WordPress, for instance.


    The video is here at YouTube.

    This test is, in part, a response to this press release stating that ravelbabel.com‘s Jake Lowrey “believes his site is the first to be a true hybrid blog by encouraging the submission of video comments.” They actually allow uploading to their site.

    I don’t think so. It was possible long before ravelbabel.com issued their press release.

    HA! Well, I was wrong right – if I cheat a bit. I think it did work in previous versions of WordPress (pre-2.1) – with the bbcode version – but it does not seem to work now. My apologies.

    I also apologize if you subscribed to this post. I forgot about that before I posted this. I’m sorry.

  8. Hey, Jake. Thanks. I’ll write to you now. And, just so you’ll know, I wasn’t poking fun at you. Rather, I was spurred on by your post to see if a video response blog was possible using WordPress.