Communications professionals tend to spend more time with print reporters than journalists from any other medium. It’s time we challenged that notion.
Granted, PR flacks have chuckled to themselves over the last several years as traditional newspaper empires have wasted away under the pressure from online media. But what they haven’t done is change their daily routine and priorities.
In order for a communications strategy to be effective in the Web 2.0 era, the media mix needs to be re-prioritized:
- Online media: The Internet has changed everything, so the cliche goes, so it should change how we look at media relations as well. Too often we look at blogs, YouTube, and other sites but we don’t engage in the conversation. Our day should start and end by researching relevant websites, commenting on blogs, and injecting new information into the conversation. Create YouTube video, podcasts, and fresh content for your website. If you don’t tell your story online, others will tell it for you.
- Events: if you don’t hold/attend creative, meaningful events with a message, there’s really not much to cover now is there? You have a message/policy/product that you want to share with the world. For heavens sake, give them a good reason to find out about it. Seminars, briefings, speakers, rallies, press conferences – the options really are only limited by your creativity.
- Radio: This may seem counter intuitive, but it could be that your target audience spends more time in the car than anywhere else (other than in front of a computer). Leverage that valuable time when your target audiences are tuned in. Take the time to work with producers and hosts to get your product/service/issue on the air. You may not reach the numbers of people as other media, but you will reach the right people.
- Print media: Ah, the bread and butter of public relations. Until now. See #1, then spend your time developing relationships with your key reporters. We’re talking daily papers here, not magazines or weeklies. Don’t send them a press release. Call them. Tell them your story. Tell them why it’s important to their readers. Invite them to your event (see #2). Take their call after you’ve been mentioned on the radio. Be persistent but courteous. Your value to your organization will increase exponentially.
- TV: Let’s face it, out of a 30-minute evening newscast, there’s about five minutes for everything that isn’t sports, weather or house fires. The competition to get on the air is intense and the payoff can be elusive. But if you have prioritized and are ready to take on TV, then be sure you’re pitching them some good visuals. They don’t want stale walls, they want noise and people and colors. How do you do that? Go back to #2.
I know there are others, such as specialty media and long-lead magazines, and going after those may make sense in some cases, but not until you’ve got a handle on the big five. The media environment has shifted. Our media relations strategies should as well.