The amount of change in the world of journalism over the past 10 years has been profound. What was once a very exclusive industry dominated by senior statespersons admired the world over (think Walter Cronkite, Dan Rather, or Helen Thomas) has been replaced by any number of people with access to the Internet and a laptop. In the not-too-distant past, it was a big win to be quoted in The New York Times. A profile piece in Businessweek was huge. And if the trade press was important to your business, a positive mention in a top-tier publication in your industry was like gold. While a placement in one of those publications is still highly desirable today, businesses get equally excited when quoted in The Huffington Post, in Forbes.com, or in a prominent blog. The media landscape has morphed considerably. What is the impact to you and your business?
More options. More opportunities. And, potentially more risk.
In many ways, the evolution of the “citizen journalist” and the greater number of media options is refreshing and provides additional perspectives. But this morphing of the world of media and journalism requires an updated set of rules – and a new approach to media training – so that corporate PR advisors and senior business leaders can continue to communicate effectively.
As Lewis DVorkin explained in this interview, “The economics in journalism are broken, and there are lots of experimentations taking place.” This experimentation has resulted in the need for corporations and PR professionals to be more flexible and willing to adjust. It also means that the person you think is a reporter may not be one – at all. They can be just about anyone, of any background, whose proposal to “contribute” to a seemingly mainstream media site like Forbes or Inc. is accepted. These writers are not held to the same professional ethics by which formally trained reporters are bound.
The Online and Social Media Impact
From the ease of online press release distribution, to having the ability to make announcements to dedicated groups of followers, the Internet has quite literally been a game changer when it comes to generating media coverage. Press releases are now structured to appease Google, and information about a company is disseminated in multiple ways today. While you might still utilize a press kit, it’s likely part of the corporate website. Many professional journalists carefully watch Twitter and online news feeds to source angles for stories. PR teams are functioning more as social media teams.
Not that long ago, issuing a press release over the wires was the preferred and fastest way to deliver information about a company. PR teams put together campaigns and press kits to schedule media time. In today’s 24/7, connected world, however, PR teams and their spokespeople must:
- Pay more attention to trending news and how their business fits into it
- Be more aware that everything they say and do can quickly become a sound bite or a viral social media moment
- React more quickly to shifts in consumer perception
- Be ready and willing to speak and engage with the media
- Recognize that while print media continues to be important, circulations aren’t what they once were; even print media is online
- Understand the nuances of communication with today’s media professionals
Traditional Media and Public Relations Still Matter
To compete with the online media onslaught, traditional media has, itself, morphed considerably, often including an online component and a heavy social media presence. If you get a call from The Wall Street Journal, don’t assume it will be a print-only piece. You might be asked to do a video for WSJ.com or participate in a Twitter chat with a roundtable of experts.
The personal relationships built over time by PR professionals remain crucial to developing positive relationships with reporters, who do not have time to respond to irrelevant or mass-emailed pitches. Media outreach cannot be left exclusively to online efforts. A personal outreach effort still goes a long way; reporters respond when they know you pay attention to their need to write an engaging story.
Traditional media, including network TV interviews, business radio, and quotes in trade publications, is still vitally important for business visibility and success. Your spokesperson still has only one chance to make a good impression. Traditional media training continues to play a valuable part in the preparation process for corporate executives.
Pay Attention to Popular Bloggers and Independent Publishers
The Internet made it possible for anyone to keep an online journal, effecting a quick shift to an entirely new genre of media: the blog. Your next door neighbor can now be a “reporter,” and some of the more popular bloggers and independent online publishers have a wider reach than traditional media. It is important to cultivate relationships with this new breed of media. Being on the radar screen of certain bloggers – collectively referred to as digital influencers – can help your business reach the masses. When working with bloggers, Franchetti Communications recommends that you:
- Seek out bloggers and writers who may already champion your brand
- Get to know the digital influencers in your space and find ways to help them
- Maintain ethics in your relationships with bloggers by clearly disclosing the relationship you have with them
Every Business Is Its Own Media
In addition to all of the other media opportunities with which businesses have to be involved, it’s important to recognize that every brand is its own media as well. From publishing blogs on your business website to maintaining an online press kit, it’s easier than ever to disseminate the information you want to share from your corporate website.
As the world continues to be more connected, the definitions of PR and media will change, too. Savvy business leaders will embrace the opportunities these new forms of communication invite. While there is still a need for traditional media, there are new ways for business leaders to reach their intended audiences now, too.
Media will continue to evolve with technology. It may not be out of the realm of possibility that your future media interviews will be conducted using holographic images. Rather than worry about what the future holds, embrace the opportunities that globally connected communication presents.
Originally published on LinkedIn
Franchetti Communications delivers accelerated results by designing power-packed media interview and presentation training sessions around your unique goals, in person and via teleconference. Franchetti Communications works with corporations and business leaders to develop communication strategy, messaging, and PR strategy. Follow Franchetti Communications on LinkedIn, and be sure to download our special report: 6 Ways to Guarantee Your Message Cuts Through the Clutter.