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Building Better Media Relationships

Media relations are an integral component to what we do at PondelWilkinson, whether a public relations or investor relations engagement.

Crises aside, generating media awareness of corporate entities, their brands, products and services, among readers, listeners and viewers is critical to the success of any communications program.

Shrinking news departments, fewer beat reporters, and an increasingly tighter news hole, however, are making it harder to get reporters’ attention.

Another caveat to these challenges is that only 36 percent of journalists prefer to get their information from PR/IR sources, press releases, and newswires, compared with 42 percent last year, according to the 2017 Global Social Journalism Studycision-global-social-journalism-study

The good news is that experts and industry contacts remain key sources of stories for U.S. journalists. For example, while a reporter may not write about a new app or the latest software version, he or she may be more inclined to interview an executive about key technology trends, such as artificial intelligence or cybersecurity.

Media relations 101, right? Maybe not. According to the same study, only 19 percent of reporters say PR professionals provide high quality content, and just 37 percent are reliable.

Learning what’s important to reporters is vital to establishing long-lasting media relationships, essentially, helping them make their jobs easier.

Follow these simple rules for building successful media contacts:

  • Do your research, learn about the reporter and his or her area of coverage.
  • Customize your pitch, conveying why it’s important to the outlet’s audience.
  • Do not blast pitches.  Just don’t do it.
  • Provide value, such as proprietary content or a unique perspective or point of view.
  • Call first, if possible, especially since reporters are constantly inundated with e-mails.
  • Be transparent to foster credibility.

There’s no easy way to building better media relationships. It takes time, effort and a good sense of news, coupled with knowing what reporters want and need.

– George Medici, gmedici@pondel.com

Will the Real News Story Please Stand Up?

There has been a lot written today about Google’s new policy that prohibits fake news sites to use its ad software to promote stories. Facebook soon followed suit and said it would not “integrate or display ads in apps or sites containing content that is illegal, misleading or deceptive, which includes fake news.”

Fake news has been popular for some time. The Onion, for example, claims it is “the world’s leading news publication, offering highly acclaimed, universally revered coverage of breaking national, international, and local news events.  Rising from its humble beginnings as a print newspaper in 1765, The Onion now enjoys a daily readership of 4.3 trillion and has grown into the single most powerful and influential organization in human history.”  Obviously satirical.

The New Yorker’s Borowitz Report is described as “The news, reshuffled.”  With recent headlines such as “Queen Offers to Restore British Rule Over United States” and “Trump Confirms That He Just Googled Obamacare,” it’s fairly easy to determine that Borowitz is using humor to talk about current issues.

Internet site, Sports Pickle, asserts that “Now more than ever, America needs some honesty in #journalism.”  Clever article titles including “If Tim Tebow can heal the sick, why is he selfishly spending his time playing sports?” and “Derrick Rose sent to neurologist after saying Knicks are Super Bowl favorites” are meant to make people laugh.

But I digress. The recent decisions from Google and Facebook have nothing to do with shutting down satire, but everything to do with shutting down deception. Reuters noted that the measures were taken to prevent “purveyors of phony content” to make money through clicks and advertising.   While this is a good start, fake news is still appearing in search results and news feeds.  NBC News reported that according to the Pew Research Center, 62% of Americans get some news from social media.

An embellished story on Twitter about a man trying to buy a McDonald’s milkshake at 1 a.m. turned into international news according to The Guardian, which believes that the “phenomenon is largely a product of the increasing pressure in newsrooms that have had their resources slashed, then been recalibrated to care more about traffic figures.”   Given the power of social media and the ability to share news, real or fake, with millions of people in a nanosecond, how can we be sure what we’re reading is valid, allowing us to form our own opinions versus being fed them?  I’m not sure there’s a good answer, but a start is to consider the source and the content.  Snopes also does a decent job of debunking fake news.

For those of us who communicate for a living, the idea of fake news (and again not the satirical kind) is distasteful, especially given how it can move markets, destroy a company’s reputation or cause divisiveness among friends, family and colleagues.  In one such instance, a client of ours saw its stock price lose 10 percent on a fake news tweet about the company’s headquarters being raided by the FBI.

I commend Google and Facebook for taking a stand, but let’s hope that this is just the beginning.

– Laurie Berman, lberman@pondel.com

AP’s Right ‘Frame’ of Mind

Associated Press Logo

The Associated Press

Soon, reporters at the Associated Press will be equipped with smart phones enabling them to simultaneously report news across all social media platforms, according to insiders at the global wire service.
 
AP reporters, trained to write, will be able and directed to capture video, take wire-worthy photos, tweet live from a news event, and of course, “phone in” stories as appropriate. Incorporating video alongside online news is not exactly brand new, although wire service reporters trained on how to shoot video is something of a paradigm shift in the media reporting business.
 
AP’s move is indicative of the changing media landscape and how some news outlets are responding to today’s highly competitive, multi-media news cycle.  Although wire services have remained relatively unscathed in this new media environment, mostly because of their ability to produce and distribute 24-hour news coverage, editorial staffs still have been cut, and long gone are the days of simply filing news for the next day’s newspaper.
 
What’s interesting is the growing use of video in online news coverage, not to mention how traditional journalists are embracing this medium.  Ironically, a recent survey by PR Newswire found that 75 percent of journalists want to use video when gathering news.  This is a sharp contrast compared to only 43 percent of communications professionals who say video is important to journalists.
 
Video is new again. This is primarily due to the Internet and inexpensive technologies that enable people to shoot, edit and post good quality content.  More than 40 billion videos are viewed in the U.S. each month, says Jonathan Taplin, clinical professor at USC’s Annerberg School for Communication.  There’s also great value, too.  Videos can be shared with key audiences and picked up by online media, but most importantly, the content creates a deeper bond with viewers.  That’s why movies will never go out of out of business.
 
The lesson here is that video dramatically has changed the media landscape.  Remote multi-media reporters with real journalism experience will be the new modern day correspondents of the 21st century. While this sounds like a futuristic science fiction movie plot, the reality is that it’s happening now, not tomorrow or in the near future.

 

George Medici, gmedici@pondel.com
 
 

Adding value for clients when content is king

Glancing at any traditional outlet online will show stories covered across multiple platforms using video, audio and yes, good old fashioned text.  While agencies are optimizing press releases to accommodate the new media landscape, knowing how to leverage video properly can be a challenge.
 
Simple is better.   A short flip video of a client providing unbiased expert commentary can be leveraged with a local newspaper or business outlet.  Offering advanced or exclusive access to the content can go a long way in securing coverage.  Knowledge of proper video handling is also important, although most video captured and shared is not created by professionals.
 
It’s OK if it doesn’t get picked up.  Video can be shared across an organization’s own social media including Facebook and YouTube, which can be found by a simple search using Google or Yahoo.  Local or corporate events also can be leveraged.  The content builds credibility and helps foster engagement with key target audiences.
 
More media are using video in their daily coverage.  However, beware that not all content is good.  Make sure the video adds value not only to media but to current and prospective audiences as well.

 

George Medici, gmedici@pondel.com