Why You Should Build a Social Media Newsroom, and What to Put in It
by Deltina Hay
Imagine you had one place, just one place you could send the media, prospective reviewers, book buyers, distributors, fans—anyone at all who wanted to know all there was to know about you and your books.
Not only a place where they can learn the basics, but a place where they can:
view all your major media coverage
see all your past and current press releases
look up all your past and future events
read all your book reviews
download multimedia material including author photos, book-cover art, press kits, sales sheets, podcasts, and book trailers
view author bios with links to social networking profiles in LinkedIn, MySpace, and the like
review del.icio.us pages you have built (called “purpose-built” pages) containing bookmarks to Web sites relevant to your message
subscribe through RSS feeds to any section on the site
share any content on the site with friends or colleagues, via email or via sites such as del.icio.us or Digg—with one click
send you instant messages using AIM, MSN, Skype, etc.
link directly to your latest blog posts
link to other blogs, Web sites, or Technorati tags that are relevant to your message
comment directly on your media coverage, press releases, and book reviews
Well, you can have that place—a social media newsroom (the original Social Media Newsroom template was conceptualized and designed by Todd Defren of SHIFT Communications, and you can find it at www.shiftcomm.com). You may have heard the buzz about “Web 2.0” or “social media” and brushed it off as a passing fad, but I see social media as the future of the Web.
Social media newsrooms are set up using blogging software (such as WordPress) or a content-management system (such as Joomla!) that is free and that already has the relevant technologies in place or works with available plugins to help you integrate all the elements of the newsroom. Even better, blogging software or a CMS ensures that every entry—including all your media coverage, book reviews, press releases, photos, book images, etc.—will be indexed not only in the major search engines, but also in every social bookmarking index, accessible to millions of potential readers.
This is the true power of the social media newsroom for publishers and authors: exposure.
But it has other significant powers. The social media newsroom was created to attract and serve today’s media people, people who understand multimedia and want one-stop shopping for every bit of material they need, and it gives them what they want—fully downloadable and print ready, easily bookmarked, easy to share with their colleagues, complete with links and search functions that will lead them directly to more relevant information. Most important, the social media newsroom is a place that welcomes comments and is totally interactive.
A Quick Look at Content
Social media newsrooms must be on only one level. In other words, you don’t want any navigation beyond the first page, except for RSS feed subscriptions, contact information, and news releases. So all the individual sections should be visible, and all media material should be downloadable directly from just one page.
Gathering the information and setting up the necessary elements for a social media newsroom is most of the work. I often tell my clients that if all they do is get the elements ready, they will be more social media–optimized than most. (Details about specific tools that you can use to set up your newsroom and generally optimize your Web presence will appear in an upcoming PMA Independent.)
For each book, you need:
information about the author, including headshot, bio, links to the author’s blog/Web site, links to networking profiles on LinkedIn, MySpace, etc.
material for a Multimedia Gallery, including print-ready versions of author photos and book images, podcasts of interviews or readings, video clips of interviews and book trailers, and PDFs/DOCs of sales sheets, press kits, excerpts, etc.; you will also want thumbnail images or icons for each of these elements
purpose-built del.icio.us pages
a Technorati account, and other social-bookmarking accounts with bloglines, mybloglog, and the like
an instant-messaging account like AIM, Skype, or Yahoo!
RSS feed(s) from existing blog(s)
links to relevant blogs/sites, especially those you and/or the author read regularly
material for the Media Coverage section, including the logo of each media source and a link to each story, or to a PDF if a story was print-on-paper only
material for the New Releases section, including a short hook and a link to the actual release
material for the Book Reviews section, including logos or icons for sources and links to the reviews or links to PDFs for those that are available only in print-on-paper publications
material for the Events section, including brief descriptions and links to other material about each event
Yes, this is a lot of work, but once you have gathered and organized the information, you are 90 percent of the way to having an effective social media site, because maintaining the site involves just adding new entries to the Media, News Releases, Book Reviews, and Events sections.
What About Your Web Site?
Now, many of you may say, “I already have a Web site with most of these things on it. Why do I need a social media newsroom?” Two big reasons:
First, a newsroom tells the members of the media, booksellers, reviewers, and others who can help you make your books known that you are making a serious effort to make their jobs easier. A lot easier. Imagine how difficult it must be for media people to extract the information they need if they have to learn to navigate every publisher’s site to find it. The social media newsroom does for multimedia what the standardized press release did for print news: presents the information in a standardized way, easily located and harvested from one page.
Second, as mentioned earlier, having a social media newsroom means that each entry in your newsroom, from a press release to a simple image, is automatically indexed in search engines as well as social bookmarking services, since each entry is actually a post to a blog, or an indexed entry in a CMS. In other words, people can find your site by running into an image of your book, or by searching for a blog related to your book, or by looking up sites tagged in Technorati or del.icio.us. It’s all about the hits. Think of it this way: You can have one lottery ticket in the pot, or 100—you figure the odds.
A social media newsroom need not replace your existing Web site. You still want a place to blog, a more traditional place to present other information, and a place to sell. Although all your sales tools will reside in your newsroom so you can easily send buyers there to download your catalog, sales sheets, and more, your social media newsroom is a neutral place to present media material, not a sales tool per se.
When adding elements or entries, always ask yourself whether the information you are posting will add to or enhance the newsworthiness of your book. And do not be afraid to post information about your competition. If you are offering a good book, you should not be shy about comparing it to other books on the same topic. Corporations have already figured this out and often create a purpose-built del.icio.us page specifically about their competitors. It is a great way to show the media and potential book buyers that you are confident about your credibility. After all, good journalists are going to find the information anyway; why not help them along?
Here is a fine example of an author’s social media newsroom: www.owenegertonnewsroom.com. Contact the author, comment on the entries—that’s what it’s all about!
For more information on social media newsrooms and optimization, as well as more in-depth definitions of these individual elements, visit www.socialmediapower.com.
Deltina Hay is the owner and manager of Dalton Publishing, a literary press out of Austin, Texas. She has done programming and Web development for 25 years, and she reports that her love of publishing and media coupled with her passion for open-source programming led her to Web 2.0 and social media consulting. To learn more, visit her sites—socialmediapower.com and daltonpublishing.com—or email firstname.lastname@example.org.