Giving life to the social media press release

Last May, Boston-based social media PR advocate Todd Defren published a social media press release template as a means to encourage and stimulate discussion on effective ways to evolve the traditional press release into a communication channel better suited to today’s online world of rich content, conversations and linking.

That led to the formation in June of the Social Media Club, whose mission is to share best practices, establish ethics and standards, and promote media literacy around the emerging area of social media.

Now the first practical means of easily creating and distributing a social media press release is here in the form of PRX Builder.


Currently in beta, PRX Builder was created by programmer Shannon Whitley who has elegantly and deftly mashed up standard XML into what he describes as Portable Release XML (or PRX – hence the name) to create a Web 2.0 tool that breathes life into Todd’s original social media press release structure.

This has the potential to move the social media press release idea out of just talk and give it legs – let it walk that talk, so to speak. It just needs the active support of the PR community.

That’s where the Social Media Club can really play a key role in helping more PR people better understand the potential of social media and the evolution of the press release.

They’re making a great start with a half-day seminar on October 23 entitled From Social Media to Corporate Media. Sponsored by SAP, the event costs $150 and is limited to 50 participants. It takes place at SAP’s offices in Palo Alto, California, so if you’re in Silicon Valley, you know where to go.

With local groups of the Social Media Club forming in Silicon Valley, San Francisco, London, New York, Seattle, Los Angeles, Vancouver, Chicago, DC, Toronto, and Boston, the chances are that a similar event may be headed your way, wherever you are.

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Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

  1. Garrison

    The idea of the PRX Builder is a welcome one and I got excited at the prospect of taking a peek. But sadly it uses Flash. Why couldn’t it be open-source? Disappointing for what is essentially a great idea.

  2. Shannon Whitley

    Thanks for mentioning PRX Builder. We’re very excited about our launch and hope that people will find the concept, along with the new PR Newswire package, an appealing combination.

    I’ve written a little bit about my decision to use Adobe Flash on my blog. It really came down to trying to provide the best user experience possible.

    I hope that most people will focus on the result of the effort and not the tools that were used. Please look at the house that I’ve built and not worry about whether I used a hammer or a nail-gun to build it.

    My goal was to make your life easier, and this step-by-step approach should enable anyone to create a Social Media Press Release. I encourage you to try the tool and see what it can do for you. I welcome your comments and suggestions.

    Shannon Whitley
    Whitley Media

  3. Garrison

    Shannon, trouble is I don’t have Flash 9 and neither am I likely to – Firefox on the Mac doesn’t seem to play well with it, maybe it’s my machine/set-up, but I find it slows things down.

    I also lose interest when the first thing I see on sites these days is: you don’t have the current version of Flash 9 – would you like to instal it now?

    That said, I commend you on your house, but I just can’t live in it, sorry.

  4. Shannon Whitley

    Thanks for the comments, Garrison. Especially during a beta release, I appreciate any and all feedback.

    I’m the type of person who really wants things to work for everyone. Unfortunately a startup company can’t always afford to develop for every platform. Even if I had selected another development platform, I doubt that this version would have run perfectly on every machine.

    We have many people successfully using PRX Builder. The majority of our users are running Windows with IE or Firefox. I look forward to a time when I can fully support everyone, but it isn’t practical today. I hope you understand.

  5. Garrison

    Hell Shannon, you know what? I’m going to D/L current verssion of Flash and contaminate my machine just to put it through its paces ;-)

    I’m all for enterprising ideas, and PRX-B looks like it is one, so I’ll kep an open mind and give it a go.

  6. Shannon Whitley

    Ha, ha. That’s the spirit.

    My email address is I’m sorry to say that I’m not sure how the Mac will do, but I’m definitely willing to work with you one-on-one if you have time.

    If you run into trouble with Adobe Flash. These links are very useful.

    Uninstall Flash

    Archive of old Flash Players

    I have uninstalled, reinstalled, and installed old versions many times with no ill-effects.



  7. Chris Heuer

    Shannon – I am looking forward to speaking with you directly and applaud your efforts but lament your decision to choose Flash – your site is the first I have seen in at least a year that makes it hard for users to access it so it has really failed on the most basic of elements of usability – seemingly at odds with making the application available for everyone. A small shop should know better and would have used XHTML with CSS which can be easily and readily made into a cross platform / cross browser application for everyone with only a very small number of users unable to use it, as opposed to the continuing stream of complaints about the use of Flash on this tool I have heard from others.

    I would like you to succeed, which is the only reason I am even bothering on telling you this. Get rid of the Flash and go back to basics. If you need to convince potential users to make changes to their system in order to become a customer of yours, well…

    Neville – thanks for the nice mention – I am looking forward to actually meeting you in person at one of these events someday soon – perhaps it is time to start planning for Social Media Club Amsterdam?

  8. Garrison

    Shannon, I have just installed Flash 9 and this is what happened:

    1. Pop-up said: It appears a browser is still running on your system
    2. So I closed it (had to close FF and lose all 6 tabs I had open this morning!)
    3. Pop-up again: It appears a browser is still running on your system! (no it isn’t, I closed it)
    4. Oh I see, ‘application not responding’ (meaning Firefox crashed whilst being closed during an install)
    5. Closed browser, again!
    6. Installed Flash 9
    7. Opens browser automatically at PRX site (nice touch)
    8. Loading bar only got as far as about 60% and just hung – nothing is happening. In fact, nothing has happened for 10 minutes, loading bar is still hanging at 60%
    9. Press Stop. Refresh. This time it hung at 35%

    Tried a few times and latest the loading bar has disappeared completely and when I mouse over the top of screen a navy blue rounded bar appears but nothing on it.

    Like Chris, I would like you to succeed too because it’s a great idea. But for me, as I suspected, your house is uninhabitable. Ditch Flash, please!

  9. Garrison

    Shannon, I don’t doubt PRX produces nice looking press releases. However, I remain amazed that your product doesn’t work on FF for OSX, absolutely amazed!

    To follow on from your house analogy, it makes me wonder if Flash is the nail-gun to Ruby’s good ol’ fashioned hammer?

    I’ve tried it several times throughout the day but nada, nothing, zilch – just still hanging.

    My next recourse is to reboot my machine. I’ll let you know if I have any joy.

  10. Shannon Whitley

    Garrison — Apparently Adobe has a lot of work to do to provide better support for Mac users.

    That is, however, not my battle to fight. I will deliver a non-Flash version in the next few days.

    Stick with me. I’m dedicated to meeting your needs too.

  11. Shannon Whitley

    A quick progress report…

    Garrison, I hope you’re still tuned to this post. I’m literally a few hours away from launching an Ajax version of PRX Builder, completely sans Flash. I’d love to have you, or any other Mac folks, provide input on the finishing touches.

    I can be contacted at



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