In chapter 6, Solis presents the type of idea that makes you want to slap your forehead and say, “Of course! Why haven’t we been doing that all along??” It is a revolution in the way we we communicate with the press. He calls it the Social Media Newsroom.
What does the Press page on you website look like now? Probably a list of press release titles with links to pdf versions of the release, right? When journalists want to do a story on your company or review of your production they have to email and ask for photos, video clips, etc., etc. This takes up your time and delays their work. What if they (and your brand evangelists) had access to everything they could possibly need all on one page of your website?
Imagine your Press page transformed into an interactive, content-rich source for all possible media about your company: high resolution photos through your Flickr albums (which are available for download because you use the Creative Commons license), all your videos embedded from YouTube, RSS feeds from your blogs and Twitter streams, links to bios of key staff plus cast and crew, a link to your Facebook fan page (perhaps you’ve even used Facebook’s nifty ability to embed a widget version of your fan page into your website?), upcoming events, links to other folks talking about you (journalists and general public) and, of course, your press releases. (check out Chevy’s use of this idea with the Volt’s social media dashboard, also mentioned in Engage!)
I know some arts leaders are making lists in their heads of why this wouldn’t work for them while reading this: rights issues with playwrights/photographers/Actor’s Equity, desire to control the access to and use of images/video/information, lack of time to set it up, etc. But consider this all would actually make your life much easier and, besides, you don’t really have control of the information anyway, might as well make acurate info readily available. Of course, you need to consider all ramifications and discuss them with the affected parties before posting anything, but I’m seeing a wonderful trend of everyone agreeing that the way to raise the tide is to get the information out to the people who can and want to spread it.
We are already doing most of this in separate spheres, it is time to aggregate it in one place and make it as simple as possible for journalists and our fans to spread the word about the work we are doing. By adding a login feature for posting comments or contributing to your forums with Facebook Connect or Sign in with Twitter, you make it even easier for your fans to tell the world. Perhaps this could even be a way of legitimately (within Equity rules) getting video of your productions up on your site … it suddenly becomes B-roll. Even if Equity’s antiquated rules continue to deny use of production video, you can still get excellent behind the scenes and interview footage that can help everyone know more about you and tell others.
I’m imagining a main page with the most recent information in all the areas mentioned above, plus links to similar pages for each production/event/exhibit. Once you get the main page set up, the syndication to the individual pages is a snap. And, since all of the social media websites mentioned above have the ability to embed information by copying and pasting code, even the main page won’t take an inordinant amount of time to create.
It is up to us to make it as easy as possible for everyone to access our information and spread it to others. This is a great way to start.