Posts Tagged ‘Sally Falkow’


The Changing Media Landscape: What It Means to Public Relations

Thursday, May 10th, 2012

This post first appeared on CommPro.biz 5.9.12 and is cross-posted with permission.

Recently, I spoke at two PRSSA regional conferences about how the evolution of digital and social media is changing the media landscape. In particular, the discussion revolved around how news is now immediate and information can get lost in the shuffle and, perhaps more importantly, how this all affects our role in PR. I wanted to share some of what we discussed with you. 

According to The Pew Research Center and the Project for Excellence in Journalism (Pew PEJ), the Internet surpassed newspapers and radio as a primary news source back in 2010. In fact, the explosion of online content (via blogs, social networks, new online-only media outlets, video portals and other venues) is coming not just from traditional media companies, but individuals and organizations from every walk of life. It’s a development that invites an entirely new way of thinking about how companies can get out their message and amplify their brand.

We keep hearing “Chicken Littles” spouting that big media is dead or that social media will soon replace traditional media. Poppycock, I say! On the contrary, “old” media still provides most of our news! The percentage of original content found on social media pales in comparison to traditional media. The Pew PEJ studied one typical American city (Baltimore), and reported that a whopping 92 percent of new content came from “old” media, proving that the published story is just the beginning of its life cycle.

There seems to be no shortage of those that believe the press release is dead. I’m in the opposing camp, as I believe it continues to be a useful tool for public relations practitioners. Don’t get me wrong, every circumstance is unique and not all situations will warrant release to the media, but the press release is still an integral part of the PR toolkit. Actually, social media has created more — and more effective — channels for companies and brands to communicate. Regardless, the press release will always have a place in your online newsroom. I’ve heard both Sally Falkow and Steve Momorella say it well—don’t underestimate the power of that news release, it has great SEO value.

So what does all this mean in terms of media relations? Considering that 98 percent of journalists say they start a story with a Google search (per the Pew PEJ State of the Media 2011 report), it means your news needs to be optimized for search engines. Make it easy to find as well as easy to access. In other words, don’t make journalists register to get into your newsroom. Instead, include embed codes for video and images, publish text as text (versus as images where it’s difficult for a journalist to copy and paste from), include links to all your social media accounts, and make your news available in a feed so they can follow if they’d like and get your news pushed to them.

We also discussed digital storytelling as a key core aptitude for public relations and marketing professionals. We frequently hear that good writing skills are the single most important attribute for a PR pro, and that’s true, but storytelling is a very close second. Some things to keep in mind when telling your story is that more is not always better. Be sure you’re speaking your audience’s language. In this multimedia environment, text is not always enough. Engage their senses—use images, podcasts, videos to amp up the virtual volume. PR professionals must adapt to the “new” journalism, more as a service rather than a product that is platform or format specific. 

I think John Steinbeck said it best in East of Eden, “If a story is not about the hearer he will not listen. And here I make a rule—a great and interesting story is about everyone or it will not last.” Read that again. It’s so true!  

Another wise person, my colleague Johna Burke, says, “Remember Captain Sully (the US Airways captain who emergency landed in the Hudson River saving hundreds of lives)? Every organization has these people and stories, your job is to find them and leverage them.”

What techniques are you using to find and leverage your story makers? How has your role in PR and communications evolved along with the media?

2010 Bulldog Reporter Media Relations Summit: Sally Falkow, Press Feed, Interviewed By Johna Burke, BurrellesLuce

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

Transcript -

JOHNA BURKE:  Hello, this is Johna Burke with BurrellesLuce, and I’m here at the Bulldog Media Relations Summit.  I’m joined by Sally.

 Sally, will you please introduce yourself?

SALLY FALKOW:  Hi, I’m Sally Falkow from Press Feed, the social media newsroom.

BURKE:  And, Sally, you’re doing a session tomorrow about social media strategy.  Can you please share the two big things that whenever anybody is trying to develop their social media strategy for their communications and their public relations – what are the two core things that they absolutely have to keep in consideration?

FALKOW:  Only two?  We’re only allowed two?

BURKE:  Only two for the purpose of this quick video.

FALKOW:  OK.  Well, first and foremost, I think you have to listen. Before you even start doing anything else, you have to listen to the conversations.  We heard a lot this morning in the first session from people saying how much conversation and discussion there is out there, and that the role of PR people is changing from managing news and getting our news out and working just with mainstream media to actually participating in and shaping and directing what was discussion or conversation.  So you need to know what is being said, you need to listen.

And the second thing, I think, is you need to really understand how you fit into the business and what the business goals are.  And you can’t measure if you haven’t set a measurable goal.  So you need to know what it is you’re aiming for, and then you can figure out how to get there.

BURKE:  Sally, always great insights from you.  Where can people find you in social media?

FALKOW:  On Twitter, sallyfalkow.  I’m pretty much just sallyfalkow, all together, one word, lower case.  If you search that, you’ll find me pretty much all over.

BURKE:  Great.  Thank you so much.

FALKOW:  OK.

Media Relations 2.0: What Journalists Really Want from PR

Monday, June 28th, 2010

Last week, I attended a webinar by Sally Falkow, APR, and Rebecca Lieb, on how Internet technology and social networking affects news media and as a result, the public relations and media relations practitioner.

For those of you who attended last year’s PRSA International conference and heard Arianna Huffington open the keynote address with, “The Newspress release is dead…” or those who read Tom Forenski’s rant a few years ago, “Die! Press Release! Die! Die! Die!,” may be surprised to learn the press release, like traditional media, is NOT dead.  Falkow told us the news has changed, but journalists still want information.  The way that journalists work is evolving so we need to provide this information in different ways.

Lieb quoted some statistics on how journalists work today:

  • 91 percent of journalists search Google to do their job (“expert” is a common search term)
  • 89 percent use blogs
  • 64 percent are using social networks

In addition, Lieb went on to say that over 75 percent of reporters view blogs as helpful in providing story ideas, story angles and insight into the tone of an issue. And, almost half of reporters say they are “lurkers” on social networking sites.

So, what do journalists really want and need from PR?  

  • They want the news in easy-to-identify, digestible sections.
  • They are looking for images, quotes, video, backgrounders, fact sheets.
  • Tag the information so it’s easily found. 
  • Give them the full embed code for multimedia.
  • Put your news in a feed.
  • Make it available on social sites.
  • Aggregate your news/social content in one place.

She says, “Deconstruct the press release into special sections and tag the information. By using news tags, a newspaper or news site could pull together larger numbers of news stories and the PR industry would be helping news publishers to gather the facts and present them in a near-publishable format.”

Bottom line: if you aren’t telling your story, then someone’s telling it for you. If the media can’t find the information they need from you, they will find it elsewhere – and you may not like what they find!  

The media in general is expected to provide more than just a print story, or just a video clip – it’s also on the web. What is your organization doing to feed the media’s hunger for content? 

Want more tips and best practices for working with the media and giving journalists what they want and need? Visit the BurrellesLuce Resource Center which provides FREE white papers, tip sheets, and more. And be sure to sign-up for this month’s newsletter, “When Press Releases Go Bad” or view an archive of last month’s newsletter, “Staying Ahead of the Media Relations Curve.

Learning How-To Be Successful and Social By Listening

Monday, December 7th, 2009
Flickr Image: Beverly & Pack

Flickr Image: Beverly & Pack

Last week I attended the PR News How-To Conference and PR People Awards, which were both sponsored by BurrellesLuce. And on Friday, Sally Falkow, social media strategist at Expansion+ and PR News Trainer of the Year, gave a presentation for PRSA-NCC.

Most of the speakers at these three events, although sometimes reviewing traditional PR tactics, often seemed to switch their focus to new social media tools.  

In this post, I’m focusing on one basic tactic that seemed to be common to all: the universal recommendation of listening first (and often) to find-out where your audience and advocates are talking. Simply stated, “You need to know where the community is congregating if you want to engage them.” Although it will seem daunting at first, a 360 overview using several tools, will help you know where to focus for continued monitoring evaluation.

Sam Ford, Peppercom, said listening is important for—

  • Product research
  • Customer service
  • Solidifying/adapting messages
  • Crisis preparation
  • Outreach
  • New business opportunities
  • Target audiences

Falkow, at a separate event, seemed to expand upon this point by saying that, “Listening helps you with your plan by generating ideas and showing you what the community is interested in discussing.”

Wendy Harmon, American Red Cross, gave a great tip: Learn to tie in your PR campaigns to what the community is talking about. By monitoring the discussions, you can make your campaigns relevant.

Both Falkow and Anne Carelli, Coca-Cola, emphasized you should “fish where the fish are.” This means you should use listening to find communities, and then start conversing in them. You don’t need to go out and create a new community if one already exists. There are several examples of companies trying to create a new community, only to fail, because it is competing with an existing one.

Colin Moffett, Weber Shandwick, and Falkow both talked about using your listening tools to understand influencers. You need to do your homework and understand what a blogger is writing about before you engage them in a conversation. Bloggers are often pickier about how and when you communicate with them then are traditional reporters.

Lastly, as listening moves into monitoring, you should use it for media content analysis. Your analysis needs to be based on your campaign goals. Most of the speakers felt “favorability” or “sentiment” should be consistently illustrated in most measurement plans. Falkow and BurrellesLuce’s Johna Burke both emphasized doing human review of the sentiment, because a computer can not understand nuances or sarcasm.

The take away for these recent industry events: listening needs be a part of your strategy from beginning to end of your campaign.

What are your “how-to” tips? Do you have any listening tips?