Posts Tagged ‘Journalism’

Media, in all its forms – new, old, traditional, print, digital, social, etc. – has evolved to the point where the lines once separating production and consumption, brands and their patrons, outlets and readership, are blurred, if not altogether obliterated. Of this, there is little doubt. But it raises a vast multitude questions that plague many of us who reside in this nebulous field that is Public Relations, Advertising, Marketing, Communication, Customer Service, and Social Media.

Question #1: Under Whose Aegis (of the aforementioned disciplines) Does The Realm Of Social Media Fall?

Marketers would argue…well, Marketing, for obvious reasons. To those outside the industry, and thus unfamiliar with its nuances, this is often the first inclination. Others might try to woo you to the side of Customer Service, winning you over with tales of happy customers who have had their problems solved upon textually screaming “Help! My PC Crashed,” unknowingly calling forth a veritable army of Dell’s finest minds who scour twitter in search of such opportunities. As a Publicist & Digital Strategist, I would have posited only weeks ago, and still might, that Social Media and platforms like Twitter & Facebook, should be run, or at the very least, curated and moderated, under the auspices of the Public Relations Department or Agency. Why PR? Because Public Relations is about defining and promoting a brand through said brand’s message, values, and principals. While traditional media was a one way vehicle, social media, by definition, is an open conversation. Public Relations professionals can, and do, continue to take that message and engage consumers and mass audiences, but now on the level of the individual or micro-community, as this degree of interactivity is presently expected of, though not necessarily delivered by, most brands. The popularity of blogging and platforms like Twitter, built on an ongoing public dialogue, allow publicists and digital strategist to identify, interject, and engage those who would be interested in learning about and associating with the brand’s values and core beliefs. Facilitating this discussion, in my opinion, should fall to those who have been doing so until now…publicists.

Question #2: Who Made The New York Times (or WSJ, CNN…) King?

That is to say, we live in an era characterized by the public’s ability and desire to produce and disseminate their own content, whether via Blogging, Tweeting, Facebook, YouTube, FriendFeed…etc. So, why do brands still rely on traditional media outlets to broadcast their message, insisting that these are the more powerful channels? Obviously, most reputable organizations have, at this point, begun reaching out to bloggers and utilizing social sites. In this light, a Daily News article begs the question “Will it matter who you watch anymore?”

My answer would be a resounding NO. In fact, for people and brands alike, I’d go so far as to pose a corollary that may be even more telling of our times, “Why should I watch them, when they should be watching me!?”

I recently attended GasPedal’s Blogwell Conference in Chelsea Piers, at which I was privy to the social media insights and experiments being conducted by some of today’s most recognized national brands, including, Microsoft, GE, Coke, Nokia, and Johnson & Johnson.

GE struck me as really having taken advantage of some of these sentiments, in the creation of their GEReports website, which acts as a hybrid between blog & media outlet. The site is designed to serve as an additional voice for GE and a portal for niche audiences to find relevant, interesting information – an innovative and seemingly effective way to employ social media and capitalize on the public’s unwavering desire to be heard and have their specific interests catered to. Yes – I ended a sentence in a preposition…deal with it.

After fighting my way through the crowd, I was able to catch GE’s Communications & Social Media Specialist, Megan Parker who kindly informed me that one of the foci of the site, and the primary basis for both content and measuring success, were the comments posted by their readership…and I thought “Brilliant.”

I pondered the connection between these questions and concepts for a while, implicitly understanding a significant relationship existed between them, but unable to articulate it, even to myself. That is, until I came across a series of blog posts rallying the PR industry to step up and embrace the evolving landscape of media. Almost simultaneously, though perhaps not coincidently, I stumbled onto a twitter conversation about “People Relations.”

Ari Herzog directed me to a post by David Mullen in which he coins the term (as far as I understand it) People Relations, resultant of a discussion with Shannon Paul. The post, The “P” in PR Should Stand for “People” is an enlightening one and hits on some very interesting and very true points about today’s society.

As Mr. Mullen eloquently puts it,

Shannon Paul suggested that integrating social media into communications strategies was putting the “P” back in PR, renewing a focus on public instead of media. I agree with Shannon a bit, but wanted to up the ante.

Shouldn’t the “P” stand for People? My wife and I aren’t a public. We’re people. I’m willing to bet you’d say you’re people, too.

Yes, I know that “public” refers to groups of people, but that still feels a bit cold to me. This is more about changing our mindset, for those of us who need it. People expect more personal relationships and one-to-one conversations. People want to share their dreams and fears. People want to be heard. People want connections.”

I say, we take this one step further. These once disparate, yet intimately intertwined and overlapping, arenas of PR, Communication, Customer Service, Advertising, Marketing and Social Media, are now coalescing and ‘People Relations’ is the resulting amalgamation. A new industry is developing, borne of necessity & experimentation; Social Media agencies, in order to actualize their eponymous mission, must become People Relations agencies, and they must draw lessons from their predecessors in order to succeed.

The New York Times & CNN are no longer the kings of content and the importance of blogger relations, so recently the epitome of successful digital marketing, is now losing meaning (though not value), as everyone’s voice becomes equally valid. I don’t need to be an avid or established blogger to tweet a scathing, 140 character, early adopter’s review of some new tech gadget that can result in the same damage as a comprehansive, half page analysis David Pogue might give the same product in the New York Times a month later. As soon as I have an opinion on anything, I have a plethora of media vehicles – textual, graphical, audio/visual, even musical – at my disposal by which to express myself.

One does not need to be a veteran video journalist to capture groundbreaking events on a phone and upload it to YouTube (or snap a shot of a plane in the Hudson River and ‘twitpic’ it before major news outlets are aware of what’s (not) flying. Not to mention the ever growing mass of new media celebrities such as lifecaster, Jill Hanner, comedian/musicians Rhett & Link, and the TMI group, whose show was recently picked up by an NBC outlet, all of whom must have ventured to, at some point, ask themselves, whether implicitly or explicitly, “Why rely on Big Media to broadcast our content when we have the means to do so ourselves?”

People Relations means catering to each and every individual – it means that marketers, publicists, customer relations specialists, and advertisers must understand – The single person is no longer a small fish; individual voices rival, or have the potential to rival, even the largest, most authoritative of the old media outfits. This is why & how brands should employ twitter. Not by barraging innocent followers with an endless stream of promotions and marketing propaganda; nor should they limit themselves to mere customer service. They must learn to treat each and every individual, to the extent that it’s feasible and cost effective, as if they were the editors of the Wall Street Journal, the way tech start-ups have come to treat TechCruch’s Michael Arrington.

The sense of entitlement associated with today’s youth and adolescents will only grow with each new generation. Publishing giants will flail and fall, and eventually fail. And while the rest of us wax nostalgic, this ever-growing legion of young producers will simply proclaim “New York Times? I AM the New York Times.”

Please…Feel Free To Share Your Thoughts & Share This Article!

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1. A Prerequisite When Hiring New Talent -Basic Knowledge of HTML & Web Design

Right now, the realm of social media is up for grabs. Marketing and advertising agencies are vying for the rights and for PR to remain in the game, publicists need to do more than develop the ‘creative’ behind digital campaigns. Whether it’s simple HTML coding for helping build out a clients blog, or fully developing website widgets and mobile and Facebook apps, having knowledgeable developers and programmers on staff is essential on claiming the social media territory in the name of PR and wresting the burgeoning landscape from the hands of competing industries.

2. PICK UP THE PHONE (But Don’t Leave a Voice Mail)

The media is shrinking and, as an unavoidable and unfortunately consequence, journalists, sadly, are being laid off in droves. This means fewer reporters covering a greater quantity of topics and beats and receiving more emails and pitches than ever, making it all the more difficult to get noticed/be heard. Thus, placing clients in top tier outlets has become as hypercompetitive as the job market itself – Catching the receptive ear of a friendly journalist, never an easy task, has become a more difficult feat that it was only a year ago. The easiest way around that – PICK UP THE PHONE. That doesn’t mean barrage the media with a never ending stream of emails, follow-up calls, and voice mail. But if you target your reporters and outlets well and understand the deadlines and time constrains of their daily routine, a well place phone call can go a long way. And it seems a lot of PR Pros…myself included…have forgotten this once-popular means of communication in light of the ease of email.

3. Predict & Preact!

Read & React, the old M.O., worked pretty well for a while. Now, however, reactive methods are obsolete as headlines fly in and out of the public’s attention so quickly, by the time you read an article in a mainstream media outlet or see it covered in the news, get your client’s perspective on the issue, and start pitching it, the story is long dead and the masses have shifted their interests to a dozen other fleeting topics. The key is to identify trends and popular stories before they hit the airwaves and papers. A few years ago, one could argue that this is easier said than done, requiring psychic powers. I’d posit that now, with the advent and growing popularity of twitter and news aggregators like digg, spotting the trending topics is easier than ever. If a publicist is good at his/her job, Predictive and Proactive pitching is not only possible, but crucial. If you are familiar with an outlet or a journalist’s goals and interests and with what issues (or gadgets, or causes, etc…) the masses are currently consumed with, this should come naturally. You should be looking for tomorrow’s headlines, not today’s.

This preemptive and instantaneous approach isn’t just essential for publicists to understand, it’s also vital that clients are fully aware of the immediacy and urgency entailed in effectively capitalizing on current, or soon-to-be current, events. A publicist’s best efforts are only as successful as the client will allow. Ensuring that your client ‘gets’ the need for a timely response will allow you to capitalize when you do spot that topic that fits perfectly into his/her area of expertise and is about to break out of the niche into the mainstream.

4. Corporate Blogging/Social Networking Policy

Many PR Pros & employees already are, and should be, utilizing social media in their daily activities. However, when it comes to blogging and engaging the public on open platforms, speaking as the voice of an agency or on behalf of a client can be dangerous, despite all the potential benefits. Thus, policies, procedure and protocol for such engagement are necessary to ensure that both the firm and its clients are accurately represented.

5. Training ALL Employees in Basics of Social Media

Again, if you or your employees aren’t targeting your outreach to bloggers, micro-communities, and the appropriate niche audiences found online, you are missing out on reaching a vast population that want to hear your (client’s) message. Most likely, this isn’t due to apathy or laziness, rather a lack of understanding. The world of social media is evolving so rapidly, it’s difficult for even the youngest and brightest to keep up. Routine training and briefings updating employees on the latest and greatest social and online media is a must.

A Note

As Always…I’m Looking Forward To Your Thoughts & Feedback. Agree with me, Argue with Me, Either Way – The Value of Any Blog, Mine Included, is dependant on the thoughts of its readership and the quality of the commentary…So Please: Share your insights on the matter – How do you think PR Firms & Publicists should Adapt? Can We? Am I Wrong? Is PR Destined for Obsolescence? Is Social Media Fated to fall under the auspices of Marketers and Advertisers? You Tell Me!

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Also, My Boss, Ronn Torossian, CEO of 5W Public Relations has put up a new video on this very topic. You can see it, below (it’s short). You can also subscribe to the 5WPR Youtube Channel Here. Enjoy!

In Keeping With Tradition – Here Are My Recommended Posts & Articles for This Week (So Far). Enjoy! And Feel Free To Suggest Others in the Comments!

The Most Interesting Man in the World: How to Blend Traditional, Online and Social Media Tactics Into One Cohesive Campaign (Identity PR)

Avoid Twitter Disasters (PC Mag)

The Day Facebook Changed Forever: Messages to Become Public By Default (Read Write Web)

Dear People Who Game Twitter For Followers: It’s Over (Tremendous News)

Did Habitat Use Iran Conflict to Attract Twitterers? (AdAge)

Tim Burton’s Beautiful Reboot of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ (Fast Company)

Blogging: the long and short of it (Guardian)

10 Twitter Best Practices for Brands (Mashable)

Chris Anderson, Elizabeth Hasselbeck Both Accused of Plagiarism (BNET)

Retweeting: ‘Followers’ look to ‘leaders’ as social networks grow (CNN)

5 tips for brand marketing on Twitter (Freshbooks)

A Shameless Defense of Journalism (New York Times)

When Does a Social Media Policy Go Too Far? Ask the Associated Press (Mashable)

The Best Kept Secret of Facebook Fan Pages (Social Media Today)

Social Media Advertising: Does It Work… or Doesn’t It? (Marketing Profs)

Is augmented reality a mobile killer app? (eConsultancy)

When Consumers Help, Ads Are Free (New York Times)

Web TV You’ll Need to Pay to See: Time Warner, Comcast Roll Out “Authentication.” Who Else Is In? (All Things Digital)

Facebook movie pinning down director, cast (CNET)

Arrested Development Movie – Examiner.com

What Bing, Twitter, and Facebook Mean for SEO (WebProNews)

Wired editor mired in controversy over parallels between book and Wikipedia (Guardian)

Dear Fast Feeders, Please Keep Your Meat Away From the Ladies (AdAge) [2 Girls 1 Sub All Over Again!]

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MuckRack is a work of art. Pure & Simple Genius. Similar attempts have been made to categorize journalist activities on twitter, but they have either been static databases and require updating or poorly designed and organized.

MuckRack is none of those. It live-streams journalists’ tweets and can be sorted by beat and/or outlet.

The best part, IMO is that since it’s built on built on a Twitter API – You can login to the site with your twitter ID & Password and by hovering over a reporter, editor, anchor or producer’s tweet – you can follow them, retweet, and even reply to them!

The only – and I really mean only – drawback as of now, is the fact that it won’t tell you which journalists you’re already following. Theoretically, you can click to follow the same reporter over and over again…but that minute waste of time is a small price for the overall value the site provides.

For PR professionals, Muckrack (also found on twitter @Muckrack) is resource of amazing potential. Beats listed range from business to travel to digital to world news to sports and outlets include pretty much everything: TV, Print, Radio, and Online.

The list of features goes on:

  • Users can rate Tweets as “Newsworthy,” “Witty,” or “Insidery.”
  • The sidebar informs you of trending Muckrack Topics.
  • Anyone can easily add a journalist not currently listed in the Muckrack Database.
  • The site also lists Designers, Developers, Celebrities, Musicians, VCs, Athletes, and even pets.

MuckRack was founded by Lee SemelAdam Varga, and Gregory Galant of Sawhorse Media and Aaron Taylor-Waldmanof Pixel Pusher.

The About section aptly poses the question:

What if you could get tomorrow’s newspaper today?

Now you sorta can, by tracking the short messages on Twitter written by the journalists who do the muckraking for major media outlets.

Muck Rack makes it easy to follow one line, real time reporting.

Check it out…seriously…Best. Site. Ever. (For PR Pros, Anyway).

Muckrack

Muckrack

So…like many of you other Twitterholics, I keep the site open throughout the day to stay apprised of the industry goingson and other important happenings. Of course, if I were to read every article that looked interesting, I’d never get any work done, so I’ve taken it upon myself to aggregate them, for myself as much as for you, dear readers, so that we may revisit the ones we missed, obviating the need to keep 53 tabs open in one browser (it was chrome, it’s my record to date, and it crashed the computer…no surprise there).

On that note…have a looksee, enjoy, and feel free to let me know if you think I’m leaving any out!

Don’t Feed The JournalistsLAF

Top 5 Reasons B2B PR Practitioners Should Embrace Social Media (Paige HoldenSocially Creative)

Bringing Balance to Blogging and TweetingAri Herzog

Twitter Waffles About Why @Replies Were Dumbed DownTechcrunch

7 Questions Some Brands Are Asking About TwitterJeremiah Owyang

HarperCollins Wants to Be Your Friend – New York Observer

The Worst Thing About PRDavid Mullen

PR Man’s Bhuna BloomerMedia Monkey Blog

The Journalist’s Guide to Twitter – Mashable

After Early Hype, Pepsi Goes Slow on Global Rollout of New Logo – Adage

As Storefronts Become Vacant, Ads Arrive – New York Times

Mobile Marketing: Is ‘App-vertising’ the Answer? – Adage

How To Be Better At Media RelationsJosh Sternberg

Advertising, Social Media SkillsEdward Boches

Cloudy day: Google, Gmail sucking wind or down; Packets lost in key cities – ZDNET

RNA world easier to make – Nature

SEO, Social Media SkillsJason Keith

10 tips for social media marketers – Ragan

Adult Attention Disorder: The ‘Splittering’ of Communications – ZDNet

Donut Hamburger introduced in Japan: The end of the universe is near.