The Social Media Release’s Fatal Flaw: No Hook

April 11, 2008 — 8 Comments


Mark Glaser has a post up today on the virtues of the so-called “social media press release” (pic above): The Social Press Release: Multimedia, Two-Way, Direct to the Public. He runs through the arguments in favor of it and how apparently PR folk are starting to use it.

Perhaps I’m old school…ok, I am old school, but I’ve been dealing with media releases since 1997, when I was taught in a job how to write a good press release, so I have no issues with the current format of press releases and I don’t see an immediate need to dump them for this format, although I do take on board that others may prefer the style.

Press releases can be both bad and good, the bad usually comes from people who have no real idea how to write one. I get a mixture every day, some I read, some I just delete.?Ǭ† How a media release should work: short intro that includes exactly what’s in the release (the hook), second paragraph that expands on the details in the first one, maybe another paragraph if needed, two paragraphs of quotes (always important when pitching at the MSM as they may run them) then a concluding paragraph. Ideally the press release should never be longer than a page. That’s the formula I was taught and have always followed.

Here’s my issue with the social media release, and I think it’s a fatal flaw: there’s no hook. Leading with contact information is bizarre because contact info is only relevant for a follow up and is always best left in the footer. But to then have the headline below that, and “core news facts” with bullet points on the release….where’s the hook? General rule of thumb is you’ve got seconds to hook someone reading your press release before they delete it/ trash it: headline should lead with an immediate description (hook) of what the offering is. Good headlines help, but it’s that opening introduction that most people will read, you need to hook them there (headlines can’t always convey the vital info). Rejig a social media release to open with a hook then I’d think it would work a lot better.