Some people have asked: Is the press release dead? Has Twitter killed the press release? Believe it or not, popular press release distribution service PRNewswire doesn’t think so. “No, it’s enhanced it,” the company’s Director of Audience Development, Victoria Harres, tells WebProNews. “So, social media (Twitter, Facebook, and whatever else you can do, especially video these days) actually has enhanced whatever you’re doing or were doing in PR before. This is a new channel. A new way to get your message out to a larger audience, so you stil need the old tools and the old tactics, etc. but this is something you work in to really help amplify the message you’re trying to get out.”
In fact, Harres’ strategy for for corporate Twittering probably includes some lessons a lot of companies could take with them. “At PRNewswire, I started tweeting as @prnewswire. It was May of 2008, and for the first year and a half or so, it was just me, and the job, you know, as the audience grew…PRNewswire’s a pretty big, global company, so the amount of questions I was getting, the amount of work it took just to respond and keep up with it, it just became too great,” recalls Harres. “So now, we have a team, and we each (there’s four of us)…and I’m still the main voice. I’m the voice who communicates if you send a message either through a direct message or an @reply to PRNewswire, I’m the one that’s going to respond, but the others each have a role.”
“One person is looking for a certain type of content, another something else, and we have one person who’s designated to do any kind of promotional or marketing tweets,” she explains. “And we specifically just have one person doing that, because she makes sure that we’re not overdoing it.”
It’s interesting to see how different companies orchestrate their social media strategies, and with there being so many potential use cases for a service like Twitter, finding the right approach can be critical.
“Our rule is ten percent of the actual self-promotion kind of thing, so she makes sure they’re timed out, you know, we’re not hitting people over the head, and that we’re covering the things we need to cover, and not marketing…you know, we get a lot of people in the company, ‘oh tweet about my thing or my thing or whatever’, and we have to kind of draw the lines, what we will or won’t tweet about,” says Harres.
Obviously, Twitter’s not only a great tool to get your message out to customers, but also to communicate with like-minded individuals. “My husband was a salesman for thirty years, and they had their association for their industry, and they connected with each other etc. And we still do that in person at conferences, but Twitter really kind of made that association a daily thing,” says Harres. “So Twitter is our association and we the people in PR, for instance, or people in the social media realm, we’re all gathering every day on Twitter and we are an association that doesn’t just meet once a year at a conference, but we’re daily connecting with each other and learning from each other.”
And while you likely have a main corporate Twitter account, it’s also important to consider the other accounts that are out there representing you – your employees. “There is branding for a company…but also the personal branding, and of course for an employee of the company, the personal branding is still very important, because it helps the company. Me, Victoria Harres having a strong personal brand reflects on PRNewswire, but it’s also helpful to me,” she says. “So you have to work the two together.”
How many people are involved in your Twitter strategy?