traditional media

A Third Way for the Media

What if a media outlet's advertising staff consisted of writers, photographers and graphic designers who produced custom content for clients that ran in clearly designated, but parallel tracks to the outlet's news content?

Far-fetched? In a digital world that rewards content marketing, it may already be a reality, which traditional media have been slow to embrace.

Bill Momary, writing for NetNewsCheck, says traditional media may be off track trying to find ways to monetize their news content. What they should do instead, he suggests, is gear up to help advertisers tell their stories through content marketing published in conjunction with news content.

That could involve advertising departments hiring writers, photographers, videographers and graphic designers to generate compelling content that tells a story about new products or improved customer service. 

The idea splinters the image, held by old-time reporters and editors like me, that news and advertising staffs work in parallel, but separate universes. In the new model hinted at by Momary, the separation would remain, but the skill sets of the news and marketing content generators would be almost identical. Staff on both sides of the newsroom "Iron Curtain" would be looking for fresh, inviting and informative stories to entice readers.

What these new online publications would look like isn't pictured in Momary's blog, but you could imagine a blending not unlike what you see evolving in social media sites. Except in the case of online news outlets, there would be a built-in acceptance of seeing news and marketing content side by side, unlike on Facebook, which may have spoiled a generation of original users by making its platform available for free. 

The Hole in Social Media

It only took moments for fans to learn R.E.M., an alternative rock band that began in Athens, Georgia in 1980 and became a mainstream favorite, was calling it quits. The news spread quickly on social media. But the story told and retold on Twitter and Facebook posts was quickly encased in reminisces and opinions. The back story of why they quit was lost in the shuffle.

The R.E.M. experience underlines an intriguing question — are social media sites good news sources?

The answer is "yes" and 'no."

Twitter is an excellent tool to stay on top of breaking news events. You can follow several news sources — a national publication, a local TV station, NPR — to monitor headlines.

Many people use their Facebook pages to share stories of interest from traditional media, blogs or special interest sources. Assuming your Facebook friends share fairly common interests, you can discover stories you might never see otherwise.

On the flip side, people accompany their tweets and Facebook posts with personal comments and opinions. After all, social media is intended to nourish engagement. But these personal perspectives and viewpoints frequently become the fuses of conversations that range far beyond the original story.

Exactly What Is Media Relations?

At a recent event the CFM PR marketing team spoke at, I was surprised at some of the comments I received when I asked the question, “Does everyone know what media relations is?” There were a lot of “no” responses.

Media relations is building strategic relationships with various media for the purpose of informing the public of a company’s mission, policies and practices in a consistent and credible manner.

Sounds easier said than done.

While there are several outside factors that affect the way we communicate with the media, here are a few “best practices” of media relations today:

Know your brand.

You need to know what it is that makes your brand unique. This is going to be the selling point with the media.

Is a blogger a journalist?

A hot topic about news in the news, and in blogs, is: Are bloggers journalists? The debate may be pointless. Some are, some never will be and an increasing number are reaching a point of convergence.

A what? As the newsroom resources at legacy newspapers – and even their companion websites – declines, a news coverage gap emerges, says Vadim Lavrusik of Mashable.com. So-called citizen journalism sites are growing, with some traditional news websites aggregating these blogs as a routine source of information for their readers.

“The two roles and distinctions are merging, and eventually we may no longer see the shallow and stereotypical references of bloggers who sit in their basements and write about what they had for breakfast,” notes Lavrusik. “The truth is more bloggers are going out and doing original reporting, while traditional journalists are beginning to see the value in curation and are blogging themselves, though probably not from their mother’s basements.”

The Changing Nature of News Consumption

It finally happened. The Internet has officially overtaken newspapers as a primary news source for Americans, according to the Pew Internet and American Life Project.

Analysts have been predicting the death of the newspaper for years. Are these findings the final nail in coffin? It’s easy to assume, especially with the recent nomination of the Internet for the Nobel Peace Prize. However, the Internet is still not the number one news source, trailing behind local and national television news.

Six in ten (59 percent) Americans receive news from online and offline sources. Unlike more traditional news sources, the Internet has numerous fractions within it. These platforms range from traditional newspaper Web sites to informal gossip blogs to posts on social networks.

Follow the Reader, Not the Advertiser

Magazines, once the wunderkind of the media industry, now are in the same sinking business boat as TV and newspapers. To survive, some magazines are changing their economic model and taking direction from their readers, not their advertisers.

National Public Radio broadcast a story last month noting newsstand sales of magazines have dropped sharply and advertising revenues plummeted 18 percent in 2009, as advertisers scrambled to the Internet. In a story aired today, NPR reported newsstand sales fell 9 percent in the second half of 2009 compared to the prior year. "The good news is that decline was less than the 12 percent drop the magazine publishers saw in the first half of 2009."

Press Releases: Publish Yourself

Where will you send your press releases if traditional print and broadcast news outlets continue to shrivel or move to new business models? Maybe you should consider publishing your own press releases.

The emergence of the Internet and social media has eroded the economic footings of traditional media. Fewer reporters and no room in the news hole have replaced reportorial skepticism of spoon-fed press releases.

At the same time, Web sites and social media afford opportunities to interact directly with customers and constituents. You can post your press releases so customers and constituents can read them without the filter of a reporter, copy editor and headline writer.