Posts Tagged ‘Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism Annual Report’


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?

Missouri State University PRSSA Day: Media Myths

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

mascom_PRSSA_smallLast week, I was honored to be a part of Missouri State University’s PRSSA Day as a speaker on social media misconceptions. One of the myths that we discussed was “Social media will soon replace traditional media as the most viable source of news,” and I wanted to elaborate on that point. 

At least once every week, or so it seems, someone comes out with a “Traditional media is dead” article or warns that “We shouldn’t waste time on traditional media and advertising.” As a matter of fact, I read an article several months ago about a survey on the subject by PR/PA agency mergers and acquisition consultants, StevensGouldPincus. SGP managing partner, Art Stevens was quoted as saying, “If this trend persists within the next two years social media will replace traditional media as PR/PA’s primary tool for reaching client audiences with news and information. When you consider that traditional media have been the bedrock of professional PR/PA practice for more than 100 years, the implications are profound.”

I’ll concede that the preferred vehicle for news distribution is definitely shifting to digital, real-time and even mobile platforms and I’ll agree that the implications are profound to communicators and consumers alike; however, the source of most of that content remains the same: The percentage of original content found on social media pales in comparison to traditional media. In reality, most news content is first published in the print or web editions of major news outlets, and then syndicated or picked up on social media networks and blogs, confirms this BurrellesLuce newsletter on “Social Media Myths and Misconceptions“.

In fact, according to a Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism study last year, “Blogs still heavily rely on the traditional press — and primarily just a few outlets within that — for their information. More than 99 percent of the stories linked to in blogs came from legacy outlets such as newspapers and broadcast networks. And just four — the BBC, CNN, The New York Times and The Washington Post accounted for fully 80 percent of all links.”

So, let’s face it, without traditional media, in whatever form, there would be very little news to fuel social media. Will that change in the future? Perhaps. But as of today, traditional media is NOT dead.

Even if it is, perhaps that isn’t such a bad thing after all… Because as Seth Godin recently wrote in a post entitled, Bring Me Something Dead: “Dead means that they are no longer interesting to the drive-by technorati. Dead means that the curiosity factor has been satisfied, that people have gotten the joke… Only when an innovation is dead can the real work begin. That’s when people who are seeking leverage get to work, when we can focus on what we’re saying, not how (or where) we’re saying it…”

What do you think the future holds?

Overcoming Blogger’s Block

Monday, February 7th, 2011

What to blog about?

istockphoto.com Good IdeaThat is the question I’ve been asking myself for a few days. In my pursuit of a topic for a post, I realized I’m not alone… Writer’s block has always been something that communications professionals, and others, have struggled to overcome. But now that audiences expect instantaneous access to new content and materials via blogs and other social media, it’s becoming even harder to keep up and remain, well, “fresh.”  

In hopes of beating my own blogger’s block, I decided to take a look at some PR resources for inspiration. I’d like to give you some, in case you, too, find yourself in a similar situation.

One: Arik Hanson recapped a blog discussion last November on 24 ways to feed the blog beast. I’ve referred to this list several times. In fact, my BurrellesLuce colleague Valerie Simon has utilized number nine, summarizing various Twitter chats, several times since she leads both the #PRStudChat and #HAPPO chats. I especially like number 20 on using best of posts. This strategy allows me to include information from multiple, valuable sources and give some “link love” to other great blogs.  

Two: My Google Reader is a great resource for searching for topics and other blogs of interests. Josh Braaten, Big Picture Web Marketing, notes this tip in his post, Four Tips for Overcoming Blogging Writer’s Block. He also suggests using Twitter to review hot topics and ask for ideas.

Three: The startup, Skribit claims to be the cure to writer’s block. The application allows you to get feedback and suggestions from readers of your blog. Mashable even highlighted the tool in its Spark of Genius series, and based on the comments, I would give it a try.

Four: I’ve asked my network for ideas. I don’t always use the ideas, but the act of reviewing their ideas often leads to new ones. For this post, I asked Peter Shankman for some  good writers’ karma, because he had tweeted about  how a blog post just came to him and he had a great writing session. And he sent it (the good writer’s karma) my way via DM.

Five: And don’t forget the traditional media! My colleague Tressa Robbins recently wrote a blog post, News in Our Digital Lives: “Old” Media Still Matters, recapping the annual joint meeting of PRSA, IABC, and CSPRC.  Amy Mitchell, deputy director for the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism presented some interesting finds, confirming the importance and reliance on traditional news. “In one American city (Baltimore), a whopping 92 percent of new content came from “old” media, proving that the published story is just the beginning of its life cycle.”

How do you get ideas for your blog posts? What themes have resonated with your readers? What topics would you like to see covered on Fresh Ideas?

News in our Digital Lives: “Old” Media Still Matters

Friday, February 4th, 2011

Amy Mitchell PEW Research Center Project for Excellence in JournalismA couple weeks ago, I had the pleasure of hearing Amy Mitchell speak in St. Louis at the annual joint meeting of Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) and Community Service Public Relations Council (CSPRC), of which BurrellesLuce was a sponsor. Mitchell, a native of St. Louis, is the deputy director for the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism (PEW PEJ).

Mitchell spoke to a group of roughly 250 communicators about the new news consumer and media trends for 2011.  It was an intensive presentation complete with plenty of charts, graphs and statistics. I won’t attempt to recap everything that was addressed but, here are some of my key takeaways:

  • No surprise that there is more news consumed now than a decade ago with 33 percent of Americans getting news via mobile devices, and 92 percent reporting the use of multiple platforms to get their news.
  • Internet is closing in but 74 percent still go to television for national and international news.
  • More of us “graze” for news with two minutes and 30 seconds being the average session per site, down from three minutes and six seconds last year – compared to about a half an hour with a daily newsprint product.
  • Sixty-two percent of internet users are on social media, and 77 percent of social network users get their news there.
  • Facebook is the third most popular referral site for news articles – following only Google and the original news site.

Contrary to those naysayers that keep saying print media is dead, this “old” media still provides most of our news!  In one American city (Baltimore), 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 are lots of new players in the news game: citizens, non-profits, patch (local), commercial entities, corporate communications, newsmakers, privately funded sites, lobby and special interest groups. However, those producing news today have less control than ever in history. 

Mitchell said, “While news in the 21st century offers greater freedom today than ever to take part in the news conversations, it brings with it greater effort and responsibility.” 

So what does all this mean to you?  Obviously social networks are a very important distribution channel, but PR professionals must adapt to the “new” journalism – as a service, not a product that is platform specific. Communicators must be transparent with corporate messaging. What is your organization doing to adapt to the changing media landscape?

When It Comes to Online Media, Just The Facts Are Free . . .

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

The Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism’s annual report is once again upon us. As in the past, it confirms that the majority of us get our information online and that we do not want to pay for it, subscribe to it, or pay-per-click for an article.

The facts may be free, but getting them collected, edited, checked, and delivered to you online or otherwise still costs money. Like almost every else When It Comes to Online Media, Just the Facts Are Freeyou do in this life, you do get what you pay for. The old joke of “hiring’em young while they still got all the answers” may work fine for opining in the blogosphere, but may not cut it in the “knock three times and tell’em Dan sent you” world of investigative journalism.

Then there is this little issue of legality. At the recent OnCopyright 2010 conference put together by the Copyright Clearance Center in New York City, a self-proclaimed investigative blogger lamented the chilling effect of the many defensive lawsuits filed against him. While we may be prejudiced against the larger media organizations at times, they can stand up to this type of intimidation. To preempt the criticism they vet their sources and data prior to publishing and if that’s not enough they have financial resources to support their position.

Back to free; the cry is that everything should be free on the Internet . . . Well it never has been and never will be. The content and information you get every day on the web is being paid for by somebody, usually advertisers. For lots of reasons we can look at later, this subsidy is just not cutting it.

So if we want reliable, vetted information we have to support its creation. In other words, we have to pay for it. The organizations that are creating vetted content are searching for a way to do this. There are a number of models being tried currently.

  1. The pay-wall which is in place at a number of sites and variations are being implemented by the Financial Times and the New York Times.
  2. The pay-by-article model for which you pay only for what you read á la iTunes.
  3. A central subscription service for many participating providers.

I believe all of these are doomed to fail. However, I do believe there is a fourth solution that could prove viable and consumer-friendly. It would be a hybrid of the pay-by-article model and the aggregated subscription combined with some as of yet unreleased technology.

Over the coming weeks, I look forward to examining more closely some of these monetization options and having a bit of discourse on the topic. In the interim, I strongly recommend that anyone whose livelihood, especially journalists and public relations professionals, is tied to media read the Pew Report. And share their thoughts with myself and the readers of BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas.