Thoughts on Marketwire’s “Social Media 2.0″

Look in the sky…It’s a Web 2.0 release…It’s a social media release…It’s Marketwire’s Social Media 2.0 release!!!

Earlier today I read that Marketwire was unveiling their new product called “Social Media 2.0,” which they are claiming is the “industry’s Most Authentic Social Media Product.” This new release has an embedded YouTube video, social bookmarking tags, Technorati tags and trackbacks.

I must admit that looking at it made me ooh and ahh – it was quite the innovative news release.

Then again, I felt the same way when PRWeb came up with this stuff years ago.

Not that I have anything against pushing the envelop – rather, what I found curious was the claim that Social Media 2.0 is the “most authentic social media product.”

According to Merriam-Webster, authentic is defined as “not false or imitation.”  I am not going to make the claim that their product is false. I’m also not going to go into depth discussing how most of these features imitate things that PRWeb and others have already done.

Rather, I’m going to focus on their claim within the broader framework of social media.

If you were to ask ten different so-called social media experts to define social media, you would get ten varying responses.

We are talking about a movement that has been pushed forward by a global community of academics, innovators, industry professionals – that is still relatively undefined and amorphous. It is however a collaborative movement, and I think it is wrong for anyone to claim ownership over it.

I suppose on some broad level we can make certain claims about social media – I think many would agree that we are talking about a shifting media landscape where the role of passive media consumer is quickly becoming antiquated. Social media has empowered many individuals to have a voice amongst the din of big business – that is why I have always considered PRWeb to be a social media product – because we help individuals and smaller organizations speak with a megaphone.

Social media is about putting the social back in the media.

This product is simply riding the Web 2.0 hype wave it almost seems like they have created a list of all the buzz words and trendy brands (many of which are already on the way out) and found ways of adding them into a template.

In the newswire industry, I do not believe that places like Technorati or StumbleUpon or just distribution points to be injected with content. They are places where conversations about great stories happen.

To help our customers better leverage social media, we help them create great stories through text, images and video. Our tool will carry their story throughout the Internet to people who are interested in reading about it.

We also make sure that the release contains all the necessary content (images, file attachments, podcasts) for bloggers or journalists who are interested in turning the news release into a story.

Finally, we make sure that the news release becomes an engine to drive traffic and links back to the customer’s Web site.

For me, the most telling aspect of the Marketwire social media release was when I clicked on the Digg and Technorati links that opened up a search for the news release in those Web sites. There was some interesting content but no reference to the news release itself. The social media release had struck out in the spaces it claims to impact.

Maybe when Social Media 3.0 is ready to go publish, PRWeb should be used to announce it.



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  1. on February 6, 2008 #

    Thanks for this great post Jiyan – I have lots more to say about this, but I am very disappointed to see that MarketWire still doesn’t ‘get it’

    Not only is Social Media 2.0 just silly, but to claim to be the most authentic anything is ludicrous. This is a classic case of “marketers gone wild” not only baring their chests, but showing us they’re nutz too.

    Please, oh please, won’t you folks at MarketWire just come talk to us about these things – we would love to have you join our conversation rather than try to start a new one that claims innovation where there is so much prior effort. There are some smart people there, I dont understand how this could happen…

  2. Jiyan
    on February 6, 2008 #

    Hey Chris!

    Thanks for your comments – claiming their product is the most ‘genuine’ really is a slap in the face to everyone who has worked their tales off to move the form of the news release forward including yourself.

    I think your observation that this is ‘marketers gone wild’ is completely on-target. Everyone gets carried away every so often (including…ahem, myself) but the irony here is simply too much to bear – they are talking about a ‘social media’ product but in a very unsocial way.


  3. on February 6, 2008 #

    Hello Chris and Jiyan:

    Chris — I don’t believe we’ve met, but my colleague Kevin Dill speaks quite highly of you given his efforts with the Austin chapter of the Social Media Club you founded there, I believe. I am pretty sure that before we acquired PRNN (Kevin’s company), he was active in sponsoring SMC-Austin chapter events, was a panelist at least once there, and perhaps even offered to work with you on your own social media platform efforts. Given all you, and to your point, countless others, have done to advance social media…I, for one, am looking forward to meeting you in person. And, before the next iteration of Social Media from Marketwire does come out…you can be assured we will talk to you. Your insights will undoubtedly be helpful. What’s the old saying? Just not enough hours in the day :).

    Jiyan, as always, enlightened discussion with you given your expert role at PRWeb is enjoyable. It is good to hear from you again.

    I’ve read your respective comments, and hopefully carefully enough to respond with a reasonable degree of thoughtfulness. And, forgive me, but I think some of our comments may have been misunderstood, and I’d like the opportunity to explain.

    First, it should be clear to all who follow this blog, and find this topic of social media interesting, that this product, Social Media 2.0 was developed with the safety of a “multitude of counselors: social networking experts, clients, SEO and other online marketing experts as well as our own team worked for more than a year together to create what is a first-ever, authentic social media tool from a disclosure-based newswire. With all due respect to our counterparts at other newswires or web-based press release distribution services…we’ve taken the idea of ‘socializing’ a traditional press release by merely adding ‘tags’ to a new level. And, truthfully, believe that what we’ve developed actually advances the social media movement – as amorphous as it is.

    What we believe this product offers is an opportunity for who has been a traditional intermediary and facilitator (the newswire) of one-way communication (press release distribution from a communications professional to a media contact in the hopes of being the catalyst for a story to end users, consumers et al), to play an important role in breathing new life into the tool itself (static press release becomes more of a living tool – a social media press release), and now providing a platform for traditionalists (whether communications professionals or journalists) to truly ‘socially’ engage directly with each other and others in a way that the newswire couldn’t facilitate before.

    Of course, Marketwire isn’t a founding father of social media. Nor do we claim ‘ownership’ over a movement much bigger than all of us — including the other posters on this blog. What Marketwire does do is manage the flow of communications for tens of thousands of communications professionals every day who are interested in engaging audiences. And since they are no longer just interested in only engaging traditional media, but want to interact responsibly and respectfully with social networks, online communities, citizen journalists and consumers…directly, all Marketwire’s Social Media 2.0 is meant to do…is help with that. Really, it’s as simple as that.

    Is this innovative? For a newswire like us…the answer is yes. And, within that context, maybe some of our claims of ‘authentic’ and ‘first’ make more sense.

    In any event, our clients seem to be responding favorably. We believe that’s an indication of the difference between substance and sizzle.

    That said, as is the case with all product launches, U.S. presidencies and weekly television series…history will tell a fuller story than our initial reactions ever could.

    And, like you, we’re looking forward to seeing how the story unfolds.

  4. on February 7, 2008 #

    I have a few concerns with Marketwire’s new product that I’d like to hear a bit more about. In particular, I’m curious about how tools like Facebook can be used as the release claims. From the way it’s worded, it raises images of spamming them with releases, which no company in its right mind would want to do. If, on the other hand, it’s just offering a way for people to share releases those networks via their own profiles, then the wording in the announcement is more spin than substance.

    However, I’m still thrilled that Marketwire is taking a step in the right direction.

    PR Web doesn’t exactly have a halo with social media though.

    Just today I prepared a news release for posting via PR Web’s “SEO Visibility” (one step above PR Web’s “social media” category). Shortly thereafter I received an email informing me I can only have three links in my 300-word release, and that I would have to add an introductory paragraph to the release.

    I wrote this release in the “social media news release” format promoted by Todd Defren, Chris and many others. The format eschews paragraphs in favour of bullet-style news highlights, sans-spin. The email (which I cannot reply to) effectively tells me that the social media news release format is inappropriate. Somewhat ironic for a price point above the “social media” category.

    As for the 3 link limit – I have more links than that in my email signature. A three-link limit is, in the words of one of my contacts when I told them about this, “the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard.” I can upload five graphics and audio files, but I can only have three links?

    Bottom line: Marketwire’s offering may not be perfect but neither is PR Web’s.

  5. on February 7, 2008 #

    Thom – like I said, there are some smart people there like Kevin, but the marketers on this really screwed the pooch by engaging with hyperbole and misappropriating very important words, it did not seem as if it was done with authenticity.

    Specifically, you say you aren’t claiming ownership over “Social Media” – but by branding your product Social Media 2.0, you are doing just that, but worse, you added a “New and Improved” starburst to the front of it. Did you file for trademark protection on that moniker too? If so, I feel for you, as that will really be a problem very shortly in a much wider circle.

    While there is truth to your statements about just adding tags in other iterations of the social media release from many other vendors (even the recent work from Digital Snippets doesnt enable comments as many people would like to see happen), the way this announcement was presented, using old style marketing bravado to a degree, was about the least authentic way you could perhaps present these concepts.

    Worse, for a company to claim that any product or service is the “most authentic” anything just immediately sends the BS detector off the charts… Its like claiming “our employees are the most human” but its even worse then that, because companies and products are not authentic in the sense you are using the term (as opposed to using the term to describe ‘authetnicated’ goods like sports memorabilia or high fashion). As Rageboy (Chris Locke) likes to say, “it it can’t F***, it ain’t authentic”

    Regarding your statement that:

    “Is this innovative? For a newswire like us…the answer is yes. And, within that context, maybe some of our claims of ‘authentic’ and ‘first’ make more sense.”

    So within the context of your closed walls this is innovative, but the market’s response is that your claims of being innovative are perhaps mistaken… hmmm, looks like we might both be right. The trouble is of course, that the news you are distributing isnt taken within the context of your four walls, it is taken and analyzed within the context of the market as a whole in which you are offering your goods and services – no amount of traditional spin can make people who know otherwise from their own experience that what you claim to be new (despite all those expert advisors you had) is in fact new to the market, if others have already been working on similar ideas or concepts.

    That said, I will look at the product further, but I won’t believe any of your marketing spin on this – IMHO, it was disingenuous. An opportunity to connect with the wider community of folks who care about this has been wasted…

    PS – if it is “as simple as that”, perhaps it should not take so many words to explain… not meaning to dig at you, but am trying to point out the importance of words, since again, you claim it is simple, when it is not.

    PPS – thank you for coming out to talk to us

  6. Jiyan
    on February 7, 2008 #


    I have a great deal of respect for your approach here and appreciation for your decision to join the conversation.

    I am in agreement with Chris that the messaging is just so flagrantly ostentatious it really seemed to fly in the face of what many in the space have been saying for years now.

    I’m going to suggest that when we consider social media – we need to consider both the structure and the content itself. It may very well be that “Social Media 2.0” is an excellent vessel for engagement between an organization and its relevant entities. However, this addresses only half of the puzzle (despite what Marshall McLuhan might say)

    The other component that seems missing is the content itself. In a true cycle of engagement, the need for blatant pitching and selling dissipates. In many ways, this is just as important a lesson in social media as the technology.

    So to return to your response, when you state “first-ever, authentic social media tool from a disclosure-based newswire,” it becomes harder for me to really give your news the attention it probably deserves.

    On the other hand, the message in your blog response just seemed more sincere and honest – and consequently I have found myself far more inclined to consider the potential in ‘Social Media 2.0’ than before.

    Ultimately, I agree with the general sentiment here that the truth will becomes manifest.

  7. Jiyan
    on February 7, 2008 #


    You bring up some excellent points here and I’m also curious to know about the ‘social media’ distribution and potential backlash. However, I’m more interested in addressing the critical points you raise in regards to PRWeb.

    Let me start out by saying that since our conception, we have placed a premium on customer service and innovation. In fact, we were the first to introduce most of the social media features that you see in news releases these days but I’m not going to get into any competitive posturing here 😉

    With more customers experimenting with the SMR format we have been working to address a number of challenges: First, we have retooled our editorial guidelines to accommodate this new format. That was the easy part.

    The second involves a bit of background on how online news distribution works. Essentially, you post your release to your newswire of choice. Then, it gets distributed through a variety of channels. That is the basic initial flow of content.

    That first part is easy – we simply make some back-end changes to accommodate the SMR format. It is that second part where things get a little bit sticky.

    One of the main reasons people use online newswires is because their news gets into Google News. Well, did you know that according to Google, “If the article body appears not to contain punctuated sequences of contiguous words, we won’t be able to include it in Google News. Make sure that the text of your articles is made up of sentences, and that you don’t use frequent tags within your paragraphs.” To get a complete list, visit

    Now, we could publish your SMR in whatever format you like – but that would decrease its likelihood of getting picked-up in Google News.

    I’m using one example because it is the most obvious but others exist.

    The standards set forth by Google News and other distribution channels have also impacted the amount of links we recommend to our customers.

    I could go on about this forever but to make a long story short, we put these standards in place because our mantra has always been “online visibility.” We want to make sure that your news moves far and wide online. Sometimes that means placing limitations on the format of the release.

    I can assure however that the SMR is something that we care about – that I personally care about – and we are working tirelessly to figure out how to make sure it gets the same visibility as a standard news release.

  8. on February 7, 2008 #

    Chris –

    Thank you for your words. I do hope you will indeed take the time to work with the product. While that may not change your mind about how it was marketed, or have you issue us a hall pass for what we named it; maybe it will provide some utility that simple editorial opinion vs. experiential opinion wouldn’t otherwise express.

    Then again, it may do nothing of the sort.

    Either way – this has been a good dialogue, and I look forward to more.

    Thank you for caring enough about what we’re doing to actually ‘engage’ in this discussion with us.



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