PitchEngine: Social Media Changes the Way We Do PR

As a web worker, I have clients who are always looking for new and more affordable ways to market what they do. I’m also faced with the constant need to better promote what I’m doing to continue to grow my business. The landscape on the web is undergoing a deep and vast transformation because of social media, and it is affecting the way we market what we do. Public relations will never be the same.

Two years ago, a company called Shift Communications introduced the concept of social media releases that incorporated social networks, microblogs, audio and video elements into text releases. A year later, they expanded their concept to include social media newsrooms, spiffing up the traditional text-heavy online newsroom with more multimedia bells and whistles. PitchEngine is a freemium Web app and hosting service that helps non-techies – and even non-PR-types – to build their own social media releases and social media newsrooms.

I’ve been exploring PitchEngine lately as a tool for both my clients and my own company. PitchEngine elegantly automates the creation of social media press releases and social media newsrooms. The creator of PitchEngine, Wyoming-based marketer Jason Kintzler, really “gets it.” He’s an avid social media fan, a brand manager for a popular outdoors products company Brunton, and leader of the Pitch Engine Ning group where “PR meets social media.” He’s in the thick of the conversation about how consumers are carrying the marketing conversations these days, and PR people need to come to the conversation in smart ways or get left behind.

The Moving Parts of PitchEngine

PitchEngine is first and foremost for the person who wants to build a social media release but doesn’t have the technical skills. You can create as many brand accounts as you want for free. Brands represent you or your clients and projects.

Building a social media release includes integrating a company’s Twitter account, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc., as well as easily embedding audio and video. The finished product has all the links and elements easily accessible in and around the main press release text. The release is hosted for free for 30 days and then expires and is no longer available which is a suitable duration for an effective PR campaign, however, also an incentive to purchase a subscription for a more permanent social media newsroom.

Even with the 30-day limit, PitchEngine is also a helpful press release distribution tool. Kintzler is about to announce that Google News is now picking up releases going through their system which gives the free service great reach and online PR cred. The PitchEngine system makes it incredibly easy to distribute your press release into your account on top social media sites including Twitter and Facebook.

Kintzler recently introduced an editable Twitter submission form because he understands that submitting press releases to a conversational community such as Twitter could be considered spam. Instead of just linking to the release, you can modify your message to make it less commercial and more relevant to the conversation.

The Costs and Savings of PitchEngine

Media types can use PitchEngine entirely for free and perform filtered searches for topic areas of interest. They can also sign up for free RSS feeds to continue to monitor for press releases on the topics of their choice.

Social media press releases are free and hosted for 30 days but long-term hosting is available for a subscription of $50 per month or $600 per year in a social media newsroom. Companies, organizations and individuals can link directly to their social media releases or newsrooms on PitchEngine’s site (such as this newsroom for Brunton) or bring the social media release feed into their web site (like Gerber Gear does). If you consider that a single press release sent through a popular wire service such PR Newswire or Business Wire costs $400+ for a single release, this is a phenomenal deal.

Sure, the biggie PR wire services will probably step up as competitors to PitchEngine in the near future but they won’t be able to be as social media savvy, nimble nor as affordable as Kintzler’s venture. There has also been a recent backlash regarding using social media for marketing and public relations as there is bound to be with the adoption of any social platform for commercial purposes. The conversation about social media marketing has only just begun.

How do you feel about using social networks and tools like PitchEngine to market directly to consumers?

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