Social Media Release Rage

"A couple of years ago the social media press release was all the rage", writes Mark Evans. He suggests that PR and marketing people believed, "the social media release would revolutionize everything". As someone who was on the front lines of the Social Media Press Release development for a couple of years, I have no idea what he is talking about.

I think that, yes, there was a little bit of excitement amongst a segment of social media nerds (myself included) about how the SMR was a nice update to the traditional news release, but I'd hardly call it a "rage".

Even now, with the Social Media Release business seemingly good for CNW Group (my former employer), Marketwire, Pitch Engine, and probably a lot of other companies, I'd still be hesitant to call it "raging". (In the comments on Mark's post, CNW's Amanda Laird does point out that the SMR is CNW's fastest growing product.)

As recently as last year at PodCamp, there was still confusion from people about what an SMR even was.

No one ever said the SMR would "revolutionize everything".* If I remember correctly, most of the talk was about how the SMR was part of the evolution of the traditional press release. It was a natural move. Today, most people would agree that online newsrooms that can incorporate multimedia elements are where this has evolved to. I tend to agree with that, but I'd even say that a news release with links to multimedia content follows that same evolution.

In the comments on his post, Mark adds "personally, I’ve found that many clients are using micro-sites or creating Web pages that include a press release, high-res photos and graphics and video instead of using a social media press release." If these micro-sites or web pages with news and multimedia content aren't SMRs or a close relative, then I don't know what they are. They certainly aren't radically different.

What I do agree with Mark about is that the important part of media relations is the social part—the relationships with reporters, the reaching out to known contacts.

I've always advocated this approach, and I'm happy to see that CNW continues to do so. (A single tear rolled down my cheek when I read that blog post.) In fact, this approach is even embedded in the name of this tool—it is called a SOCIAL media release for a reason.

Maybe I'm wrong about all this, though. Maybe I did miss the SMR party a few years ago. Maybe the PR world has given up on providing the media with compelling images, audio, and easily shareable video. Maybe everyone has gone back to plain-text news releases, delivered via fax and horseback.


*I was definitely pretty excited about the whole SMR thing when it first came out. If you can find evidence of me saying that it would "revolutionize" PR or news releases, I'll buy you dinner. If you can find evidence of anyone else saying it would "revolutionize" PR or news releases, I'll buy you a beer.

Goodbye, CNW

After two and a half years of working for CNW Group, I've made the difficult decision to leave and pursue another opportunity. I say it was difficult decision because CNW has been more than just an amazing place to work. I spent the majority of my waking hours since 2007 at the company's Bay Street headquarters, and the people here have become more than just colleagues. I mean, I've probably talked on the phone more with people in CNW's Western Canada offices than I have with my mom in the past few years.

CNW, and the people there, gave me a ton of great opportunities that I might not have had elsewhere, and for that I'm truly thankful. When I was just a guy with a tan, sleeping on my friend's couch, Laurie Smith (now CNW's VP of Culture and Communication) took a chance on me and offered me a position as a Communications Coordinator. Since then, I've had a few different roles in a couple of different departments. In each case, my colleagues and managers were always supportive of what I was doing.

I will always look back at my time with CNW fondly, and while I certainly enjoyed the work I did there, I'm going to miss the people that worked there more.

Thanks for the great time, CNW. I hope we keep in touch.

Yours Truly,

-Parker Mason

P.S.: As sad as I am to be leaving CNW, I'm also super-excited to start the next stage of my life and career. I'll fill you in on the details in a week or so (I'll still be in Toronto). You can always reach me via e-mail ( or at

Canadian Law Firms And Their Use Of Social Media

My CNW Group colleague, friend, teammate, and BlogCampaigning contributor, Heather Morrison, has put together a great report about the way that Canadian law firms are using social media. Omar Ha-Redeye said it "is likely to become one of the primary sources for Canadian firms looking to enter this area."

Steve Matthews called it "a nice overview of the benefits of social media investment."

And Garry J. Wise wrote that it "thoroughly canvasses the key social media platforms and provides much-needed context via thoughtful comments from several Canadian lawyers who are constructively engaging online."

So what are you waiting for? Download the PDF via the link below:

Canadian Law Firms And Their Use Of Social Media


Breakfast with Amber Mac and Mathew Ingram (CNW)

If you live in Toronto and are in the communications game, chances are you might have heard about the breakfast event that CNW put on this morning. If you were there, thanks for coming out and making the event a success - I think there were almost 300 guests. If you missed it, you can still listen to an archived version of it here. Jay Goldman did a pretty good job of live blogging the event, and you can read his post here.

If you want to get a better idea of what you missed, check out the video below that Mark McKay made:

-Parker Mason

(Disclosure: As usual, this blog reflects my own thoughts and opinions and not necessarily those of my employer, CNW Group)

The CNW Social Media Release!

Yeah, after a few months of wicked hard work from a whole bunch of different people, the CNW Group Social Media Release has arrived! If you're not sure what a Social Media Release is, check out this video that CNW commissioned the amazing Mark McKay to do: If you didn't get it from the video, one of the solid points about the CNW SMR is that everything is embeddable. That's how I got the above video into this blog post.

But what's up with the little round face?

He is CNW SMR - the lines coming out of his mouth represent a message, while the ear represents the comments. Essentially, he's a conversationalist, just like the CNW SMR.

It is also one of the first SMRs to truly offer comments on the body of the release. I'm not sure that everyone will go for this sort of thing, but I think that it is a fantastic idea. If one person has a comment (negative or positive) about your organizations announcement, chances are others will as well. With comments, that one person (or more than one person) can voice their opinion directly on the release, and you as a PR pro can also respond directly on the release. The advantage of being able to have an official reply in an offical place is obvious. (Oh yeah, these comments are RSS enabled as well, meaning that if you want to keep up to the conversation via RSS, you can)

In order to give you social media enthusiasts a better idea of how sweet the CNW SMR is, Todd Defren graciously allowed me to adapt a chart he created a few months ago that aimed to "untangle the various SMR offerings" from major wire services.

What else is cool about the CNW SMR? Well, you should check it out here and see for yourself (or check here for more CNW SMRs). You can also follow @CNWGroupSMR on Twitter to be updated when we issue new Social Media Releases on behalf of our clients.

The whole CNW team was awesome to work with on this project. Product Manger Duane Bayley has done a fantastic job (and if you have any questions, hit him up on Twitter) of working with the design team on getting all the elements right. CNW's in-house graphic designer Kelly also did an amazing job of creating all those little face icons that you see on the release (I've also got a lot of respect for Kelly for being so patient with me and all my last minute suggestions).

I'd also like to give props to Mark McKay for making the kick-ass video above - he was truly a pleasure to work with. And thanks again to Todd Defren (and the SHIFT Communications crew) for letting us adapt their chart and Brian Solis for being a decent enough guy to provide us with both a quote and a photo for our SMR.

So what do you think? Is the CNW SMR the kind of thing you think you would use? Why or why not? Any thoughts on the topic that you can muster up would be greatly appreciated!

Feel free to comment on the release, email me directly (parker dot mason at newswire dot ca) or find me on Twitter.


Disclosure: if it wasn't already obvious, I work for CNW Group. However, this is a personal blog and the views expressed on it may not reflect those of CNW Group. Basically, I'm going to say what I want here, event if what I want to say has a lot to do with my work. Hey, it is my life and my blog. And Jens' blog. And to a lesser extent these days, Espen's blog. But you get the idea. Does anyone even read disclosure statements these days?