Over the past few weeks I have been in some really deep discussions with Tom Foremski of Silicon Valley Watcher about his ideas for a New Media Release (aka Social Media Release) format stemming from his widely read Blog post “Die! Press Release! Die! Die! Die!“ Today I am happy to announce that we are going to be moving forward with a community process to create a standard around this idea that will benefit the entire communications and media industry. When Tom announced his plans for moving forward with the new media release format in early June, I was excited to learn that he had solicited the involvement of some of the leading thinkers from top tier communications agencies such as Shift Communications, Edelman and Eastwick. Now that we are launching Social Media Club as a venue for bringing communications professionals together with citizen journalists, professional journalists and tool makers, I am really excited to announce that Tom has asked me to coordinate this all important discussion and attempt to bring everyone together to produce a community standard Microformat.
In addition to bringing my friends from Fleishman Hillard into the discussion, I am bringing over 11 years of new media thinking to the mix along with lots of insights on what I refer to as The Communications Strategy (aka Knowledge Marketing). I agree with much of Richard Edelman’s beliefs about the future of Communications (though I hope we don’t call it PR 2.0) and am looking forward to more discussions with him and other thought leaders over the coming months. In particular, I believe that Communications Professionals are uniquely qualified to lead corporations into this emerging era of social media because they understand the power of words and the power of conversation.
Tom has also introduced me to Jen McClure, founder of the Society for New Communications Research, who is also going to be involved in this process – particularly when it comes time to do some good old fashioned research into how the New Media Release format will actually be used in the real world. Over the past couple of weeks, I have also been speaking with Tantek Celik from Technorati, who is also one of the leaders of the Microformats community about how to best engage in the process of establishing the New Media Release Microformat (proposed name ‘hRelease’). Todd Defren of Shift Communications has done a great job of putting forth a very well-thought out initial template for the “Social Media Press Release” that we can use as the basis for our discussions.
Before I get ahead of myself though, I wanted to say that pretty much everything, including what we call it, is still up in the air – the only thing that is sure is that we will be driving this effort forward as a community process, with no single entity or agency exercising greater influence on the process than another. We will all be peers striving for what’s best for the entire industry – which is ultimately about making an industry standard communications format that every individual and organization can use for sharing information in the spirit that Tom Foremski and Todd Defren have previously proposed.
I have a lot of ideas on how we can move this discussion forward but am still really in a “discuss and decide” mode on most issues – the most important of which are how do we get broader community involvement and how do we avoid the political wrangling that has killed so many other well-intentioned standards efforts in the past. At this point, we have just established an open Google Group for our discussion about the New Media Release forrmat, Tom has set up a Social Text Wiki thanks to Ross Mayfield and our final work product will end up on the Microformats Wiki.
This is not the death of the press release – but it is an opportunity to rethink the traditional press release and improve it in such a way as to improve the quality of journalism across the entire spectrum of media production.
Join our conversation on the New Media Release today.