Archives for category: Public Relations

As a PR professional, I’m always interested in what is going on in the media world. Not surprising, print subscriptions are down, newsrooms continue to cut staff, and media companies seem to be scrambling to come up with some new technology that will save the industry. The New York Times tested their own social network which they later scrapped and most recently, the Tribune Co. announced it was coming out with its own tablet to woo new subscribers. Tribune vs. Apple? Doesn’t seem like a fair battle.

Having also worked in interactive marketing , the same lesson has been pounded over and over in my head and I think it could be the key to saving traditional media. Here it is: Be where people are spending their time. In other words go with the flow. If people are buying iPads, do whatever it takes to integrate yourself into an iPad, don’t waste energy building your own. If people are on Twitter and Facebook, make those social networks your priority, versus spending a ton of time and dollars managing your own.

Makes sense right? Taking this idea further…What if newspapers put social media first? Facebook/Twitter becomes their “site/paper” – reporters focus their efforts on social, not as an “after the fact, the story has been written” kind of way but more of an ”in the moment, this news is happening now” kind of way. The reporters who currently do it well are the ones who are using social networks real-time. They are at the city council meeting tweeting from the event. They are watching newsfeeds to dig for the next big story. They aren’t just tweeting headlines with links to the story after the event has occurred. Sure they still write the story at the end of the day and still play a very important role in gathering the facts and crafting something that is legit and vetted, but they’re also just as real-time as everyone else.

I get that real-time news may make some news organizations or editors uncomfortable, but as a friend recently said  – “I stopped checking the newspaper online because if something is important I’ll hear about it on Twitter.” Being uncomfortable is better than being irrelevant.

So if you did shift most of your efforts to social media and had your editorial in order, then what about advertising? Well what if you had a @gannettdeals for example. People who live for coupons could follow or fan that page. It could be something you could sell to advertisers (we’ll tweet XX amount of times for XX dollars) and it would push advertisers to be more creative/give something of value to readers versus a banner ad that no one wants to see or a circular I’m going to throw straight into the trash.

You could also take your classifieds and start Twitter handles/Facebook pages. @ganettjobs. People who actually are looking for jobs, cars, puppies, etc could easily find what they need without having to sort through all the other listings. Another lesson I’ve learned from my interactive marketing role, making life easier for people is always a win.

So there you have it, this is one idea on how traditional media could continue to thrive – by being relevant, flexible and most importantly being where people are spending their time. Oh, and by the way, if they are all these things, they’re also going to be more attractive to advertisers.

TV stations, you fall into this as well – use Twit Vid, YouTube and Facebook to air your segments, try live streaming. Your advertisers will thank you for it and your viewership has nowhere to go but up. You just have to be willing to change the way you measure audience numbers by including social.

I like local media and I would like local media to continue to exist for years to come. I hope they are willing to be flexible and change with the times. It would be sad to see them go the way of video stores, record shops and book stores because they just didn’t see it coming.

Any other thoughts on how to make traditional media profitable?


I’ll never forget my first manager, Virginia. As a junior PR person, she would take me in her office and make me role-play various media pitches via a fake telephone conversation. There was something humiliating about it. Not to mention it didn’t work.  Still I had to make my way down a long phone list, bugging reporters when they were probably busy writing.

So one day, unbeknown to Virginia,  I ditched the phone for email pitches instead. Wouldn’t you know it, the responses started coming in. I was reaching reporters in a way that they wanted to be reached, on their time. Fast forward ten years and as a PR professional, frustrated with Vocus’ database tool, I decided to use social to research contacts as well as reach out to contacts.

Much like email in 2000, I found that social was a better tool for getting the job done. Here’s why:

  • Social often gives a fuller picture of the journalist. On LinkedIn you can see what jobs they’ve had in the past and where their interests may be. On Twitter you can read their mini bio, often much more reflective of their personality than anything you’d find on the newspaper website. You can also see what topics they’ve been tweeting about – what’s been pressing on their mind.
  • Social also gives you permission to jump into a conversation in a natural way. You can comment on things via Facebook or Twitter that may have nothing to do with your clients, but is more about relationship building.

From a journalist’s perspective social can be a really useful tool as well.

  • Social is great for finding sources.  I recently tweeted about my undying devotion to the Flip camera, and a journalist from the Associated Press found it, set up an interview and the next day my quote was in 100+ papers across the world. Pretty cool. Social allowed the reporter to cut out the middle man in terms of finding a source. As PR professionals, a.k.a professional middlemen, that’s something to think about.
  • Social is good for identifying what people are buzzing about.  It makes sense that a journalist would want to write about a topic that’s important to his/her readers. Again, Twitter is great as it lists Trending Topics. You can also see which topics are popular by looking at social share buttons on a blog or other sites. If a topic has been retweeted or shared on Facebook quite a few times, the public has essentially raised their hands and said they are interested.

As communication tools change so do the way communication professionals interact with one another, and that’s a good thing. I’m pleased to say my days of role-playing and mile long phone lists are long gone. Of course they’ve now been replaced by @’s, hashtags and likes….I wonder what will be next.