Lee Odden

Adding Social Media to Marketing & PR

[Editor’s Note: This guest post coverage of a recent Marketingsherpa webinar comes from TopRank’s SEO Designer Thomas McMahon and Account Coordinator Kristen Hebert.]

Are companies engaging in social media? Are they monitoring their brand? What’s a social media press release? These were a few of the topics covered in Marketingsherpa’s recent “Engaging Bloggers, Journalists and Customers” webinar featuring Todd Defren from SHIFT Communications and Marketingsherpa’s Sergio Balegno discussing new ways journalists are using social media.

2009 Social Media Marketing & PR GuideMarketingSherpa surveyed 1800 people from both small and large, B2B and B2C companies. In their findings, three out of four companies surveyed feel that social media is changing the way companies communicate. Details of this research can be found in the new Social Media Marketing and PR: Benchmarks and Best Practices report.

The most common social media tactics being used include press releases, social network profiles, blogging and interacting with forums.

In their research, Marketingsherpa found that the most effective tactics were blogs, forums, press releases and company blogs. The most effective tactic implemented is engaging in user review sites. While commenting on user review sites was the most effective tactic in terms of cost and time, it is the tactic least implemented. Companies do not seem to be matching up their tactics with what is effective.


Commentary and reputation management is a hot topic that goes hand-in-hand with social media. When companies were asked if they monitor or respond for negative feedback, 25 percent of companies polled said they don’t monitor social media commentary at all. 31 percent monitor, but don’t respond.

While larger companies are more likely to monitor brand reputation, smaller companies admit that they should also be responding to negative commentary. Google Alerts is a simple way to monitor your brand commentary. With this free service, alerts are sent to you via email when your name or brand is being written about.

So what are the barriers? Why aren’t companies engaging more with social media or tackling criticism? Most said that it was because of a lack of knowledgeable staff. Other reasons included inability to measure ROI, lack of budget funding, management resistance, technical obstacles or they just didn’t feel social media was relevant for their company.

The second part of the webinar covered the social media press release.

Did you know that the first press release went out in 1906 by Ivy Lee, a 102 years ago?!  The basic press release format hasn’t changed too much since then. However, with the changing face of communication, the familiar press release structure needed a boost. That’s where the social media press release came in.

Nearly 50% of B2B and B2C companies surveyed by Marketingsherpa didn’t know what a social media press release was. Out of those who did know about the social media release, only 20 percent actually distribute them.

In this new era of social media marketing and PR, saying things like “we are a leader in”, “we are very excited to announce” and slapping a boilerplate on the bottom of your release doesn’t cut it. People want pictures, videos, links to additional external resources, and all around, more information. 

The originator of the social media press release, Todd Defren, encourages these five principles:.

  1. Democratize Access
  2. Ensure Accuracy
  3. Embrace Context
  4. Build Community
  5. Be Findable

If you’re a beginner trying to encourage social media marketing and PR within your organization, social media news releases can be a useful tactic to deploy because showing a return on investment is as easy as consulting your analytics report.

An added bonus of including a social media release component to your news distribution is the ability for readers to comment at the source. This will allow an upper hand with brand monitoring and tracking because readers can share their opinion ofyour news, with you watching of course.

No matter how you look at it, the internet is evolving into a social community where people connecting, sharing, publishing and collaborating. Customers are talking about companies, complaining about products, making recommendations and looking for advice. If a company is not engaging with their audience and monitoring what’s being said about them, then they are out of touch with their customers.

Start engaging with your customers and kick start your social media marketing and PR efforts with a social media roadmap.  For even more sage advice on social media marketing, check out ‘Get Social Media Smart with 26  Tips on the Social Web‘ and read what other internet marketing practitioners are recommending.

Speaking of social media and public relations, check out this upcoming conference in New York April 30 – May 1 from the PRSA “Digital Impact“.

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Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on B2B marketing topics including content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely running, traveling or cooking up something new.


  1. For those of us on a tight budget and would like to self-manage a social media marketing campaign, can anyone recommend a step-by-step manual to read?