GM Europe – Social Media Newsroom

Adding to yesterday’s Greenbanana posts about motor industry online PR initiatives (BMW seeking a and Kia launching a ), is the launch of the GM Europe Social Media Newsroom in time for the .

This is cleverly targeted at “the online reporter” – rather than the mainstream automotive journalists in Europe, most of whom tend to be technological laggards, from my personal experience.  As there is a link to the Social Media Newsroom from the UK Vauxhall/GM , more adventurous petrolhead media may also check it out.

It is an interesting idea – although I am not convinced that “online reporters” will enter into dialogue via comments on individual releases.  But, the site has clear links to a photo album (where there have been some comments left) and GM videos on YouTube – although neither of these are linked to individual press releases.

notes the lack of social media releases (as does in the comments) on the GM site. 

Rather than going down that line, I tend to agree with comment on an post re social media press releases last year (thanks to for the connections).

To me, the social media release seems a clumsy way of achieving the aims of helping media draw on different resources if they are “remixing” a story.  Press releases work best with a narrative aspect – even for hard news information.  Adding in hyperlinks – as we do in blogs – would enable journalists to obtain the “collateral material” just as easily as from the proposed special box format.

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Heather Yaxley

Heather Yaxley is passionate about PR - teaching the CIPR qualifications, lecturing part-time at Bournemouth University and running the Motor Industry Public Affairs Association (MIPAA). I'm undertaking a PhD looking at Career Strategies in PR. I love sharing ideas and knowledge - connecting news and views by blogging on public relations and educational developments, especially relating to accelerated and active learning. I'm also a published author, qualified trainer and experienced consultant.

6 thoughts on “GM Europe – Social Media Newsroom”

  1. I agree with you. I can see lots of merit in the social media news release approach in terms of providing background and extra content, but for me the bullet points are a hindrance not a benefit.

    A traditional narrative news release is far easier to read and edit, especially if it is done in a proper journalistic style (including correct format for dates, job titles, numbers etc).

    I like the look of the GM social media news room and I’ve just about to forward it to the head of corporate comms at a big global corporate who we’ve already suggested something similar to.

  2. Thanks Stuart – I’m sure we will see greater interactivity in releases showing some learning from the social media release format. But we must retain the art of narrative – already too few PR people seem to understand what is meant by news or a story – random bullet points are not an effective replacement for a well crafted narrative.

    I look forward to hearing of other new developments in the social media news room re your contact in due course.

  3. I disagree with the bullet point vs. narrative argument. Then again, you could say “well you would, Stephen” or “what do you know rookie?” but honestly, hand on heart, I do.🙂

    Writing in a narrative style makes it easier for the writer to put ‘spin’ in the release whereas the bullet point format makes it much harder. I know, I know, that’s not to say anyone would but as we’re so often reminded, particularly in the blogosphere, there is a clear problem with press releases.

    You could say “the problem isn’t to do with the format, it’s the person writing it” but that’s been said for years now and my instincts tell me things haven’t changed and won’t change anytime soon.

    As a blogger and given the option between:

    A. Standard release – potentially ‘spun’ and maybe an image.

    Or

    B. SMNR – core facts, video, audio, images, relevant coverage, inbound blog links etc etc.

    I’ll definitely take the latter.

    Take a look at GM’s social media newsroom. It’s only been up a month or so (I believe) and already it has bloggers using the images and linking to the videos or, indeed, embedding them into their own blogs. For example:

    http://www.motorpasion.com/2007/09/01-el-opel-corsa-opc-record-del-nurburgring-nordschleife

    http://www.motorpasion.com/2007/07/28-videos-oficiales-del-saab-9-3-2008

    How much has the media landscape changed in the last 10 years both culturally and technically? I would say quite a lot. How much has the press release changed in the last 50 years? Not a lot, if at all.

    Of course, not all bloggers are going to the like the SMNR. But I’m willing to hedge my bets that the majority of them prefer it to the traditional release.

    Re: comments on SMNRs. Maybe bloggers (or anyone for that matter) won’t comment on a SMNR – but if we don’t try, we’ll never know. If it doesn’t work, then at least we’ll know for sure 100% and without doubt that it doesn’t… Instead of just assuming it.

    At the same time though, if, on average, one out of every ten SMNRs is commented on once does that deem it a failure? Does that mean it doesn’t work? At least it’s one more comment than we’d ever find on a normal press release.

    As a person who has spent the majority of his short PR career working in online comms, I find the traditional press release unappealing for the social media world. I really do. I still think that there’s a place for them online though through the wires and online publications – I mean, I do work for an online distribution company who’s bread and butter work is in press release distribution – but I think the PR profession should be thinking more ‘multimedia minded’ as opposed to just text.

  4. Stephen, thanks for your views. I’m not sure this has to be an either/or debate. I agree that providing relevant images/video/audio material is going to be increasingly important – so I’m certainly not advocating status quo for the traditional release.

    But whether multi-media is incorporated as GM has, outside the actual release, or through the SMNR-format boxes, or as html links or however – is probably going to depend and develop over time.

    We may even see some media linking their own images/footage, etc back to the release at in the corporate newsroom. I know that in the automotive world, launches increasingly see journalists creating multi-media material.

    Bullet points have also been a key element of press releases for new car models for many years. However, I cannot agree that this reflects some kind of objective information. Deciding what to highlight in a bullet point is as much a rhetorical act as writing the first paragraph as narrative.

    Selecting statistics for a bullet point from a study is equally open to spin (as indeed is constructing the study in the first place). For me, what we need, particularly in the case of factual information, is access to more of it.

    So I should be able to click through to all the technical data on a new car being launched – ideally with comparisons to all other competitive models, and the previous version if the new car is a replacement.

    For a survey, I’d like to be able to check the methodology and gain access to all the results, so, in theory, I can undertake the analysis myself.

    But to be pragmatic, I know that most journalists or bloggers aren’t going to analyse data themselves. Will they even trust my comparisons? Isn’t it partly their job to undertake some investigation?

    So if I am highlighting via bullets the key factors – then I may as well also include some narrative to communicate the story to them.

    Writing in sentences and paragraphs rather than bullets, doesn’t have to mean spinning a story. When I read a news item or article in print or online form or indeed a blog post, someone has written this in narrative. Why don’t bloggers just provide bullet points and links then?

    We all know that as humans we prefer to communicate more fully than just using bullet points. That is why the press release hasn’t changed – because the way that stories are told is cognitively robust.

    Yes, there is a problem with many press releases – not just in blogosphere. This is because there is often no story or news included. Giving bullet points won’t make a story appear where there isn’t one. But I’m not convinced it will make the PR practitioner recognise this and hit delete rather than send.

    It shouldn’t be about the choice of a standard, badly written, spun release with an image or an SMNR with core facts (possibly spun) and all the other links etc.

    Is the SMNR format set in stone or itself up for development? I would hope the latter. In which case, why cannot it also include narrative – the story that is being told.

    It would be entirely up to the journalist/blogger to decide if they wish to use this interpretation or add value themselves. Similarly, if they prefer to make use of the given bullet points to tell their own story. Or maybe they will dig further if we’ve provided access to original data and undertake their own research before putting finger to keyboard.

    In fact, we are actually proposing the Westley-MacLean model of communication – with easier feedback methods and access to more sources for a story. But, of course, W-M focused on the gatekeeper role – which may or may not remain as important for PR practitioners in future.

    Hence what is particularly interesting about the GM social newsroom is that it is open access and they chose to use Flickr and YouTube for material rather than making it exclusive to gatekeepers.

    Interesting times, Stephen whether one is new or old in the profession of PR.

  5. I’m sure we will see greater interactivity in releases showing some learning from the social media release format.Congratulations on the continued good thinking by your team. It is important to have these tools and templates for early adopters to test and tweak. As the developer of PR Newswire’s MediaRoom service, I can tell you that while we have had the discussion with certain early adopters about adding social media tools to their media rooms as our technology certainly allows for the formatting much like you suggest in your template, we are finding that the bulk of our clients are still relying soley on the traditional features. Somewhere down the line I do believe these early adopters will pave the way for adoption by the masses, and efforts like yours are key to this as they give the masses an opportunity to test the waters.

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