Showing posts with label media. Show all posts
Showing posts with label media. Show all posts

Friday, May 16, 2014

Ban Politicans From Social Media And Content Marketing?

 Should we ban politicians from social media and content marketing for the sake of transparency?

I'm a content marketing fan.  But there are dangers when governments use content marketing to go direct to voters. It may be attractive for Ministers to craft content and use social media to release information, but essentially what they release is a formulaic, sanitized version of events.  

The core of the content marketing movement is directly engaging people of interest to you.  It is easy to see why that would appeal to bureaucracies.  It gives them a chance to control the message and avoid the spotlight traditional media might shine on their story. 

Social outlets are news sources for more and more Americans and Australians, and administrations frequently use them to go directly to the masses.  It may appear democratic to release information through social media but it is easier than standing before a hungry media pack asking pesky questions. 

Even if the pack reports what our leaders say, that information can be filtered and viciously edited for the evening news or tomorrow's paper. Social media and its cousin, content creation, let leaders meet people directly through digital chats, hang-outs, meet-ups and tweet ups.  

But remember these forums are imperfect platforms for ideas. A Government can choose not to answer questions or respond to comments and there is precious little time in such cyber sessions to question a President or Prime Minister.  And online questions can be vague and without the context and history a seasoned correspondent can throw around an issue. 

In Australia Tony Abbott uses Facebook and Twitter to broadcast policies more than to  interact with Australians.  Reading his Twitter account this past week you'd never know about the firestorm of protest over Tuesday night's budget. Yet traditional media - for all their faults - extensively reported the story. 

In the US the White House Correspondents Association have lodged concerns with the Obama Administration's use of digital to bypass news outlets and go direct to the public.  A recent edition of On The Media explored the issue in detail and it is worth a listen. 

Let's be cautious about proclaiming social media as a force for democracy even in Western societies.  In some cases it may mean governments have a communications channel that let's them control information while seeming to be open.  

Friday, May 9, 2014

Australian Media Five Years On

Malcolm Farr from News Limited
Question three respected Australian journalists about the future of Australian media and you'd be surprised how similar their views are.

IABC Canberra recently hosted a discussion with News Limited's Malcolm Farr, Karen Middleton from SBS and ABC Political Editor Greg Jennet.   The three Canberra Press Gallery veterans shared predictions about the media in the next five years, with communicators at the National Press Club.

The media landscape may be changing but all agreed newspapers will remain important and be influencing opinion well into the medium term.  Viewers will have less appetite for traditionally scheduled news bulletins and will press TV networks to deliver a great variety of news formats via their digital channels. And new technologies will allow Australians to self select information and build their own news pipelines.

ABC TV's Greg Jennett and SBS' Karen Middleton
Which means fresh challenges for PR professionals.  How do we reach our audiences when the media landscape is so fragmented and how do we judge success?

Farr, Middleton and Jennet were unanimous that tomorrow's reporters may use different technologies, yet their journalistic instinct to seek out information and hold institutions accountable will be as strong as ever.  

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Will Media Use Your Photo?

Last week the Central Connecticut Valley Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America hosted a luncheon with top media executives who shared ideas on the shifting role of imagery in media.

Provide media with newsworthy images
For starters they all agreed social media has drastically altered how journalists operate. Outlets are under continual pressure to get out the news first and fast.  Which means accuracy of information often suffers.  We know Twitter can break news at lightning speed but spare a thought for the editors and producers who need to monitor and react to tweets and simultaneously check their accuracy in a breaking news story. 

Today devices abound.  Anyone with a smart phone now sees themselves as a photographer.  Which makes the job of traditional newspaper photographers and TV crews more difficult as they compete at media conferences and other events with amateurs jostling for the perfect pic snapped from their Androids or Iphones.  

Of course many outlets, especially smaller ones, capitalise on the smart phone trend and invite readers and viewers to share their imagery. After all it is just more grist to the continuing content mill. But only a foolish editor or producer would use something without due diligence.

In recent times most media outlets have evolved guidelines for absorbing user generated content into their coverage simply to keep up with the new wild, wild West where citizen reporters can scoop  news faster than gumshoe journalists.  

So the typical questions media outlets ask when offered content include: 
  • Firstly and most importantly: is it breaking news or otherwise newsworthy?
  • Can we verify where the information or imagery comes from? Who owns it?
  • Quality-wise can we use it?
  • Does the image 'have a verb'.  In other words does it tell a story, show something happening or someone reacting to something happening?
  • Can we use it freely or are there limitations?
  • Does it show children or other groups for whom explicit permissions are needed?
Content marketers want to see their imagery widely spread online and in traditional forums.  But before offering up something consider the media filters an editor or producer will apply before deciding to use it.


Saturday, February 15, 2014

Who Do Aussies Really Trust?

2014 Edelman Trust Barometer - Global Results from Edelman Insights

Trust is critical in content marketing or any other form of communications. The 2014 Edelman Trust Barometer shows who people around the globe trust. 

The Australian results are interesting.  Overall there has been an increase in the trust levels of Australians over the past 12 months. Specifically trust in:
  • Not for profits is marginally up.
  • Trust in media is up six points.
  • Business has taken a 10 point leap in trust levels.
  • There is a higher level of trust in government.
Interestingly Australians trust business slightly more than they do governments. 
Globally people want CEOs to communicate in a clear and transparent fashion, tell the truth regardless of the situation and regularly engage with employees.  For a clear majority these behaviours count more than CEOs being active in the media.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Media Relations Is Not a Dying PR Skill

Peter Hilmer leads Flatiron Communications
"...we must be mindful that a great “placement” in and of itself no longer has the capacity to drive a contemporary communications campaign. Stand-alone news stories are simply too ephemeral or lost altogether in the vast ocean of dynamic content. For a story meme to take hold today, it must reside and be amplified across multiple news and social channels even if that means using alternative (e.g., sponsored) means for achieving it."
Peter Himler

You hear a lot about the death of traditional media.  

But I have yet to meet a client who does not want to be on TV, score favourable print coverage or hear the Boss on radio. Few, if any, demand more Facebook and less conventional coverage.

So, it was refreshing to read a recent post about media relations continuing to be important and no way is it a dying PR skill.  

New York-based PR pro Peter Himler says old school media is still critical for success but must be part of a broader engagement program.  He claims many PRs have failed to keep up with changes in journalism which means they are not earning the coverage they previously did in less digitally challenging times.

It's tougher than ever to get media coverage, so Peter suggests a good way to boost your chances is to avoid making the 25 mistakes that drive reporters nuts.

Read Peter's very thoughtful post.

...and while we at it ... a recent Neilsen Poll shows US consumers are more likely to trust traditional media advertising over other forms. So hold the funeral notices for traditional platforms.

Infograph courtesy of Statista Inc.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Branded Journalism: Texas Style

Branded journalism is standard in content marketing yet it's not new. Over 70 years ago it was being used to sway Texas voters.

In 1941 Lyndon Johnston (LBJ), later to become the 36th US President, was campaigning to become a Senator in his native state of Texas.  The election was hotly contested and the battle for the attention of voters was fierce.

The only source of news for many voters in rural Texas was the 25 newspapers that published weekly in farming and ranching communities across the State.  Few publishers were professional journalists and most were often short on cash and short on news to fill their pages. Some were prepared to print articles provided by the candidates in return for advertising. Payments for this political advertorial were small, because at that time local merchants could buy an ad for 50 cents or a $1.

Johnson had poached accomplished newspaper men for his campaign.  In an early example of branded journalism, these reporters provided the small rural outlets across Texas with packaged news stories and pictures of their candidate. Content could be a copy of a recent speech, a favourable item from the campaign trail or an endorsement by a local identity. And the content kept coming - edition after edition - throughout the campaign.

The payments paid off and Johnson received massive coverage throughout the State.  His team never rested, recycling particularly good print coverage as radio content in the numerous broadcasts Johnson's campaign arranged over the 10-week long campaign.

Ironically Johnson was beaten in the Senate race by then Texas Governor Pappy O'Daniel.  Pappy, himself a savvy media operator, used his popular, weekly hillbilly radio show to champion his claims for the Senate seat. 

Winning only by around 1000 votes, it seems Pappy's down home style and branded journalism out manoeuvred LBJ's more polished efforts. 

Which proves that many of today's communications approaches we hold up as new, someone somewhere has tried before. 

(Source - Johnson:The Path to Power by Robert Caro.)

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Did This Blog Change Government Policy?

On Thursday I blogged on why Australian military officers should not be part of Government media conferences on Asylum Seeker operations.

Yesterday the Immigration Minister Scott Morrison announced changes to these weekly briefings.  These foreshadow a much more limited role for the  ADF spokesperson, Lieutenant General Angus Campbell.

Did my blogging cause a shift in the new Government's media arrangement?  Hardly!!!

My concerns were but one voice in a growing chorus of condemnation and frustration from traditional and online media about the way the new Coalition Government is so tightly managing information on Asylum Seeker matters. 

Along with other veterans who now work in PR, I'm pleased the Government has restricted the ADF's media profile.  Having said that, the communications strategy behind the "stop the boats" policy still needs a major overhaul.

As much as the Government tries to curb the flow of information by referring to operational security, people interested in the issue will skirt around tight Ministerial policies to get information somehow. They might seek it from from the Indonesian Government and other sources, concerned citizens letting the rest of us know what's happening on  Christmas Island, Manus or Nauru, or welfare groups across the country alerting the public to the ongoing plight of refugees. At this stage all seem willing to talk through mainstream and social media.

Government media mangers, no matter how shrewd, cannot contain news of Asylum Seeker issues.  The issue is too enormous, contentious and ongoing not to find a way to make it to the surface.

This is a story that won't be stopped, so watch this space for more changes to the Abbott's Government communications management of this issue.  

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Content Marketing: Why Now?

"Content is information others find useful or entertaining or both.  
 It is not necessarily what you want to tell people.  It is what they want or need to hear.  Content marketing is about providing that type of information on an enduring basis." 

The term ‘content marketing’ may have recently landed in Australia but the practice of content marketing has been with us for a very long time. 

Down the centuries people have always shared their content.  It could be in the form of knowledge and awareness of the world around them, transferring skills, warning others of danger and or just passing along useful facts, figures and opinions.  

Today the demand for helpful content, from reliable sources, is the greatest at anytime in history. That is because personal and corporate communications are changing fast, our lives are busier than ever and we are increasingly selective in choosing who we listen to.  
  • Families are time-poor. Too many people want our attention and we would be simply overwhelmed if we surrendered to their demands.
  • Since 2003, social media has accelerated the pace and rate of communications change.  Social media has an insatiable appetite for information and gives us a channel for direct and very personal information.  It also gifts us each of us with a publishing platform and a filtering system.  We now have numerous options to receive and share information, anytime, anywhere, any place.  And we can easily block out information from those we distrust, don't now or who hold different interests or attitudes.
  •  Recent Australian research shows we are skeptical about what we hear. We mistrust brands, business, government and other traditional sources of information.  (2013 Edelman Trust Barometer for Australia.) and operate on the basis that no organisation has the right to be heard.
  • Traditional media used to be the dominant communications channel for most of us.  Now it is fragmenting and as it searches for new business models, it is becoming one more way - not the only way - to connect people with similar opinions, behaviours or needs.                                                       
So it is time for a different PR approach if we want to find, produce and share the type of information that will connect us to our customers, clients or fellow citizens.  

Enter content marketing, an evolution of old-style marketing.  It is a system that is gaining traction in the US and now emerging in Australia.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Gold Quill Judging Looks At World's Best

This weekend I helped judge the 2013 Gold Quill award entries in Melbourne.

I always learn so much from the experience and it's the one of the highlights of my year as a communicator.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Media Success for Sporting Clubs

  My recent presentation to 23 sporting clubs in Australia's national capital, Canberra. The seminar was sponsored by the ACT Government's sports and recreation program.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Secrets Of Not For Profit Media Success

In the third of our nine part podcast series PR for Not For Profits, North American broadcaster Wayne Kelly and I explore the secrets of how not for profits can successfully work with local newspapers, radio stations and TV  networks.

We investigate how to to make media outlets want to cover your story, how to become newsworthy and the three documents that get media attention:

Each week we post a fresh episode in our podcast series.  Automatically get the next one by adding your address in the email subscription box to the right.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Social Media Can Improve Media Relationships

Social media can improve relationships between journalists and PRs

Mia Pearson of the Canadian Globe and Mail recently blogged about how social media is changing relationships between PR people and journalists. Mia offers good advice, so here is an extract from her article.


Social networking has completely changed the way companies and public relations practitioners engage with media.This evolution of technology has enabled faster communication and, in turn, the news cycle has now become instantaneous. 

This evolution of technology has enabled faster communication and, in turn, the news cycle has now become instantaneous.Many traditional journalists have also become bloggers, using their own social media channels as key communications outlets to share their stories and opinions.

But much more than this, social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn have created essential forums on which to build greater relationships between PR practitioners and journalists, and more insight in advance about what is being written. 

Smart companies are turning to social media tools to follow, monitor and respond to reporters in more meaningful and targeted ways.We see it happening all the time:

  • Reporters will ask a question on Twitter, seeking expert sources for a particular article they are working on.

  • They will tweet their opinion of how a CEO is doing at a press conference, in real time, before the event is even over. 
  • News updates will be posted as a print story is being written, giving companies insight into the overall tone or angle a reporter will be taking for the story.
This is all valuable insight. And it is works for both sides.

Reporters get better information, more tailored to their beat and readers, and PR professionals get better insight into what the reporter is focusing on.It is better to make your company part of a natural news cycle than try to pitch a story on its own. At the end of the day, reporters are looking to provide great stories to their readers and viewers and the better a PR professional understands what that means, the better the relationship will be over the long term.

Before picking up the phone, or pressing send on an e-mail, here are a few tips on how to ensure your story idea gets noticed by reporters. 

  • Following a journalist on Twitter or Facebook can allow you access to their personal and professional interests, making you more aware of the types of stories they may be interested in covering.This can be an important factor in developing a relationship, as you are able to connect with them on a more personal level and provide story ideas that resonate.
  • In addition to posting links to their stories through social media channels, many journalists post questions or polls for upcoming story content.This can give you an inside track on future story ideas or topics they may be currently researching; you might spot a good fit for your business.
  • Let the journalist know that you can offer assistance – like providing a great quote from your company expert or a unique product for their gift guide round-up.Interact on the social media platforms so your story ideas don’t get lost in e-mail.
  • It can be tricky at the best of times to stay up to date on which outlets or beats a journalist is writing for, but following them on social media will provide you with that insight. Add journalists to your LinkedIn connections and keep an eye on updates indicating changes in media outlets, beats and locations. There can be a lot of movement even within one media outlet, with staff journalists reassigned to cover new topics quickly.
  • Be helpful. If a reporter tweets about needing something for a story, and it is not tied to your company and products, but you have a contact, set it up.Good media relationships are based on trust and value. The more helpful you can be in providing sources and spokespeople when you do not have an agenda, the more receptive a reporter will be to your story ideas when your company has something to say.
Social media is changing the way PR practitioners build relationships and interact with reporters. Pay attention to what they are posting and tweeting. Their time is valuable and, the more targeted and insightful your “pitches are, the more likely your story will get picked up.
Special thanks to Mia and The Globe and Mail

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Why Humble Can Work Best In Media Relations

 Recently CNN presenter Soledad O'Brien talked about what she looks for when someone approaches her with a story.  She was speaking at the 2011 Public Relations Society of America International Conference.

O'Brien's most important question is "where is the character" in this story?" Who is the person who best represents the issue? What situation are they in? What challenges do they face?  And how are they rising above their circumstances to break through and succeed?

The veteran CNN journalist points out you might have loads of statistics but the rest of us may find them dry and boring.  For her stories she wants an individual who can put a real face to those facts and figures.

My 20+ years in media relations suggests there is an order of people to choose from when it comes to presenting your issue in the media.

The very best individual you can select is someone you are helping or who benefits from what your organisation does.  They might be a client, a customer or a citizen.  People on the receiving end of your efforts provide authenticity and powerful testimony.  Yet sometimes these individuals may be shy, anxious about privacy or disinclined to be profiled for cultural, religious or other reasons.

Steeping down, the next best person to represent your story in the media is someone from your organisation on the front line directly involved in bringing about change.  It could be a staff member or a volunteer doing something that improves the lot of others, solves a problem or in some way builds a better world. 

For example the most powerful figure to emerge in wartime news reporting can be the "strategic corporal." A junior serviceman or woman, carrying out their mission, can tell you more about the conflict around them, and do it better, than any statesman or diplomat.

The least effective people to represent your cause just might be your boss, CEO or chairman or a politician.  Why should that be so?  Journalists and the public expect authority figures to say good things about their programs. That's their job.  They get paid to do that along with all the privileges of their position.  Besides prominent figures can sometimes muddy an issue and their past deeds, statements or performance can detract from your story.

The take-way from O'Brien's presentation: offer the media a real person. Their situation may be humble but their story is often powerful.