Just a few short years ago, reaching out to the media to discuss a new product or service announcement used to be a fairly straight forward deal. Media people, journalists, trade reporters, and radio personalities used to stay put in one job, with one station or news organization and write a certain kind of story/subject matter.You would either research or look up media contacts in directories and lists. This alone has changed a great deal. As the profit deriving from subscription and advertising continues to erode, news organizations keep shaving staff, augmenting the need to fill so many paper column inches and magazine pages with free lancers.
Advertising dollars have been moving online, with the result that magazines' content has gotten even thinner, while newspapers have become thicker with coupons and circulars. Not much information there at all.
From content galore
Advertisers paid for it. Do you remember how thick an issue of Fast Company magazine used to be? So thick, in fact, that I could hardly read it cover to cover before the month was over. At one point we looked into advertising there, and I recall that issues filled up really fast.
There was buzz around the themes and discoveries of the new economy in print circa 1995-2000.
That great content did not go away completely. At first, it migrated to the publication's web site, where staff writers and senior editors packaged it in feature stories backed by in depth research and commentary.
Then it got produced at the hand of expert bloggers that filled their content pipeline with more stories -- for free. Today, the balance is heavily skewed towards a larger group of (free) bloggers.
To creating a platformFast Company magazine is in fact more in the content packaging, than in the content creation and writing business. They are not alone. Many other publications have followed suit -- you do know everyone looks at best practices, especially when it comes to shaving costs and increasing output.
This is even truer with new media. Fast Company, Wired, Business Week have all established platforms that many content creators want to join to gain greater visibility for their own work. Plus, there are many bloggers who have established their own platforms.
Search for content on any one niche and chances are you will find someone with strong content and a loyal following in that niche.
Mainstream meets main streetThe real meeting of mainstream and main street is in online content creation. As reporters continue to be replaced by free lance journalists and writers who cover many beats, their knowledge on subjects is stretched and tried. They rely more on subject matter experts to fill them in.
If you are a PR practitioner today, you will be increasingly called upon to become versed in the language of your industry and the technical knowledge necessary to create content on behalf of your company or client.
The more you can gain insights into the inner workings of the industry you operate in and the challenges it helps solve, the more effective you become in media outreach.No news can be good news
Since news is everywhere, and everyone is a publisher or rebroadcaster of news, you now have the opportunity to fill a gap -- news documentation. You still need to have something worth talking about, of course.
The other very important trends on the news contribution side is that of the packaging of back up content.
This is not something many do at the moment, yet I believe that there is tremendous opportunity to make content packaging and newsworthy story telling an art by connecting the dots.
It goes beyond understanding and articulating how your company, product, or service fits in the industry. It's about organizing the story with the other players in the space, and fitting it in the news ecosystem.Your opportunity
Start thinking like a blogger.
Integrate tools, package content in many forms, make it shareable and quotable, make it about many different points of view, as many as those of the people you're looking to reach. Today they need to be many more than just journalists, reporters, and the immediate communities in which the business you support operates.You always wrote for end users, now you need to pay attention to how they consume content, where they get their news and information, and what is their ecosystem.
Checklist for PR in new media:
- find the bloggers in your content/industry niche and observe what they do, who they connect with, how they grow their platform
- instead of pitching them your product, give them access to learning more about the benefits to the end user
- build your knowledge of the new media ecosystem around the product/service/industry of the business you support
- learn about search engine optimization, not word stuffing
- understand multimedia communications
If you're pitching me, for example, go away unless you have interesting research and data points on business and market trends. Brands are welcome when invited by my readers to expand upon their two-way customer service initiatives.
Pitch me only on condition you offer something of value to my community (realize this is subjective, so read on). Unless you really have kick ass evergreen content, keep your posts for a rainy day.
You don't have to go all out to think outside the press release, just out enough to invent something really compelling. The results will follow.
Hopefully, you will measure them beyond the media impressions. In other words, please don't tell me my RSS number or spot on a list is your measure of community engagement -- they're not mine.
© 2010 Valeria Maltoni. All rights reserved.