Jennifer Mattern of Naked PR has a great post up about social
media news releases. She raises a number of excellent questions about SMRs
that in my opinion could also be asked of releases in general. I guess the one
that struck me most was about engaging the consumer directly with the brand
through the SMR, and her question really hits the nail on the head: “Do you
think that most consumers really care about all of the social media goodness
attached to your press releases? In most cases, I’d bet they don’t.”
I agree with her, and go one step further: not only do they
not care, but it’s likely the vast majority never will. Consumers want products
that work, companies that are reliable and honest, and a quick response when
they want (or need) to complain. That’s it. Get any portion of this wrong, and
it doesn’t matter if you “engage” or “interact” with them on a news release.
think that a lot of companies’ reluctance to adopt two-way communications/web
2.0/whatever one wants to call it has to do with an understanding that doing so
opens them up in large part to criticism, and in very small part to positive or
constructive feedback. It’s the online version of telling ten or more people
about a negative experience and five or fewer about a positive one. For the
most part, engagement in this way is high risk, low opportunity. Most people
are going to use the venue to complain, a few might have constructive feedback.
A handful will tell the company they are doing great. Even those who have benefited from engaging their audiences have done so primarily in a
PR/reputation management way–which is important, but probably does more to stem
the tide of losing sales rather than increasing/adding new customers.
I guess I also think it’s just odd to have customers be the
target audience for a news release, whether it’s a social media release or a
standard one. I do think it is useful (depending on the news the company is
releasing) to have social media elements available for journalists, but then I
still tend to think of journalists (or bloggers, etc.) as the logical audience
for a news release.
What is the sweet spot for marketing? We all have those
moments where we see either an advertisement or marketing tool and think “that’s
cool, I don’t mind being marketed to in this way.” There are far more times
when we see something and think “someone got paid to come up with that?” Or the
more extreme variation: “someone should be fired for coming up with that.”
I started thinking about this while reviewing
the posts over at Brand
Flakes For Breakfast, and came across Darryl Ohrt’s piece on the NikePlus
program that he’s been a part of, and having reached 500 miles, they provided
him with a coupon for free shipping on a $28 tee shirt. It was, as he points
out, the wrong place to market to him. Further, elsewhere on the site a
restaurant invoking “in memory of” 9/11 on a pizza flyer (ugh).
So where’s the
sweet spot? Is it too individual to apply to marketing to any more than a small
niche, if that? Or does it need to combine such a unique set of variables, in
just the right amounts, that only a very few marketing campaigns will ever be
able to hit all of the right notes? I think a large part of it is originality,
which is why almost none of the “me-too” types of ad campaigns or marketing
campaigns work. If you see something really clever and think “hey we can do
that too” it’s probably not a good sign for the idea.