Media Are People, Too

Veteran journalist Will Bunch touched upon this topic in a recent op-ed, The Day the 'Enemies of the American People' Helped Save America. The Philadelphia Daily News reporter wrote about those media who helped rescue victims of Hurricane Harvey, while responding to repeated criticism of the press.

Veteran journalist Will Bunch touched upon this topic in a recent op-ed, The Day the ‘Enemies of the American People’ Helped Save America. The Philadelphia Daily News reporter wrote about those media who helped rescue victims of Hurricane Harvey, while responding to repeated criticism of the press.

Americans and the press always seem to have a love-hate relationship.

Despite much of the anti-media rhetoric at play within the national dialogue, a fairly good chunk of Americans (72 percent) trust the information they receive from national news organizations, according to the Pew Research Center.

The good news is more Americans are engaged. That means more eyeballs on traditional media, and social, too. In fact, Pew also reported in a recent survey that two-thirds of Americans (67 percent) say they get at least some of their news from social media.

As media experts, we know that human conflict is what makes news. And in today’s highly competitive 24/7-news environment, getting the proverbial scoop is going to be good for both the journalist and their respective outlets.

So, when Hurricane Harvey rolled around, it’s no surprise that millions watched live coverage of the category three-storm barrel through the Gulf Coast. Homes being destroyed and acts of heroism provided much needed drama that kept viewers engaged.

It’s hard to say how far a journalist will go to get a good story. Many correspondents are often confronted with ethical dilemmas of interfering with their own reporting.

Veteran journalist Will Bunch touched upon this topic in a recent op-ed, The Day the ‘Enemies of the American People’ Helped Save America. The Philadelphia Daily News reporter wrote about those media who helped rescue victims of Hurricane Harvey, while responding to repeated criticism of the press.

The fact is media are people, too. They have friends and families and experience life’s challenges just like everyone else.

One former journalist and current staffer says it best, “These days a lot of media outlets are attempting to emote and connect in a provocative way to perpetuate an echo chamber,” said Evan Pondel, president of PondelWilkinson.”

No doubt the media landscape has changed dramatically. News outlets now cater to liked-minded audiences, fueling the country’s already tumultuous divide.

Be that as it may, media are an essential part of documenting the pubic narrative. And yes, they don’t always get the story right. They’re human. But editors and fact checkers help ensure story accuracy.  Let’s also not forget the journalist’s creed, a personal affirmation of ethical standards and to “believe that the public journal is a public trust.”

Our jobs as public relations experts rely on our relationships with the press on behalf of our clients. We understand the difficulties and the pressures that go along with good reporting. We also like to think we add value to their jobs as well.

While it’s easy to complain about the press, just think about what America would be without it.

– George Medici, gmedici@pondel.com

Back to the Basics: Integrated Communications

Virtually daily, we all consume news on our cell phones, televisions, on the way to work, on apps, via streaming media, at events and interviews, and the list goes on.

In a world of instantaneous breaking news in all forms of electronic and printed media, senior executives are feeling the pressure more than ever to clearly and factually communicate about their companies in a time-sensitive manner.

While traditional and mobile platforms deliver all the news unfiltered, sometimes resulting in the need to be reactive vs. proactive, one thing is for sure—regardless of how and when someone receives messages, they will be scrutinized from every possible angle to get the “real story.” For that reason, paying close attention to, and preparing for, the way in which good or bad news is communicated will undoubtedly reflect on a company’s financial health, as well as the way in which the company is perceived by multiple stakeholders.

Determining the most effective way to reach an audience can be accomplished by developing an integrated, multi-media communications plan. Doing so will help ensure that all bases are covered and maximum numbers of stakeholders are reached.

In some instances, a Tweet may be an effective way to highlight a compelling message. On the other hand, a 15-second streaming broadcast message may focus on multiple issues. Or maybe, a well-crafted news release directed to investors will do the trick.

Equally important is the need for the executives on the communications teams to work together, especially in a crisis situation. Investor Relations and public relations execs should be the “First Responders” to get the word out in a consistent manner while containing any possible rumors/fake news. Where appropriate, advertising that has been planned and paid for may have to be cancelled or shifted forward until the crisis has been averted. We’ve seen the need for this strategy in the food, pharma and airline industries time and again. On a longer-term basis, advertising is something you can directly control and use to re-build the messaging that is most important to your company’s future.

Whether it’s a quarterly earnings report, product launch, a crisis communication strategy or anything in between, with today’s myriad communications channels, an integrated communications plan is the strategic weapon of choice. It’s the best way to determine how to survive breaking news.

Mark Bilfield, markbilfield@gmail.com

Mark is a special advisor to PondelWilkinson on integrated communications strategies, including advertising.