The New Media Frontier and What it Means for Today’s Businesses

by Cheryl Carr on March 24, 2010

Top Four Ways to Communicate Your Message in 2010

By Megan Webb

It’s no secret that the media landscape has changed dramatically since the days we waited to read the latest headlines from the daily print newspaper or to watch the top stories on the evening news.

Micro blog sites like Twitter are now the first to report on breaking news like the “Miracle on the Hudson” or the collapse of the Bay Bridge in San Francisco.  It seems everywhere you turn citizen journalists are weighing in on breaking news, politics, the state of the economy, religion, and of course the latest public scandals and celebrity gossip.

And let’s not forget about the power of video. Domino’s Pizza was confronted with a huge image crisis last year when a YouTube video surfaced of two employees in North Carolina preparing sandwiches for delivery that violated numerous health code standards. The video received more than one million views in a matter of days. Domino’s quickly posted a YouTube video in response that apologized for the incident and the two pranksters were found guilty of felony charges, but the damage had been done.

The lesson learned is that social media has forever altered the way in which businesses and organizations communicate with their audiences.  At the same time, we’ve experienced the downward spiral of traditional media.

According to Vocus Media Research Group approximately 293 newspapers folded last year. Eight magazines with a circulation of more than one million ceased publication and 600 staff members were laid off from top tier publications. A total of 1,126 magazines shuttered in 2009, including both print and online. In broadcast, radio stations were down from 2008 and more than 10,000 people with radio stations lost their jobs. In television, more than 100 TV stations were affected by their parent companies filing for bankruptcy. (“2010 State of the Media,” Vocus Media Research Group)

With all of the changes in the media landscape, what does this mean for your business or organization? How do you communicate your message in today’s chaotic and highly segmented marketplace?

Below are the top four ways to communicate your message in the new media world.

  1. Establish a company news bureau
    As more and more publications cut staff members, go digital or cease publication altogether, there are fewer reporters to cover your story–leaving that responsibility up to you. Savvy companies and organizations are creating their own news bureaus, using their Web sites, corporate blogs, Facebook pages, Twitter profiles and YouTube channels to share company information and to communicate their key messages.
  2. Package your story
    When reaching out to the traditional media, remember that they now have both staff and resource limitations. Ditch the traditional news release approach and provide them with a packaged story. Along with a news release and company backgrounder, consider providing audio options for radio, high-resolution video, photos and company logos for TV, and photos, graphs and charts for print. The bottom line is that you want to do as much of the legwork up front as possible. Be prepared to bend over backwards to get your message out.
  3. Only hold a news conference if it’s truly “news”
    Today’s newsrooms are short staffed and they don’t always have the resources to send an actual body to your announcement. When considering a news conference, put yourself in the shoes of an assignment editor and weigh the news value. Be more strategic, flexible and creative in your approach. In lieu of mandating news conference attendance, consider providing the media with opportunities for phone interviews with your company executives or setting up a Web page complete with downloadable media materials including news releases, executive photos, company logos, visuals, etc., that for those media who cannot attend, they can access quickly and from their desks.
  4. Target new media
    With staff layoffs and the increasing number of citizen journalists, expect to continue to see a surge in the number of reputable bloggers and “power Twitterers” with sizable audiences. Remember to include these new sources as part of your media campaign. As today’s audiences continue to become more fractionalized, targeting influential bloggers and social media users can help spread the word about your business. You might also find these medias as a great complement to your new business development, sales, service and marketing departments.

It’s important to remember that the state of the media is no longer what it once was 10 years, five years or even one year ago. For businesses, this means that the way you communicate with your important customer audiences must be adapted to meet the needs of the new media landscape. Start with these four strategies and be open-minded to the changes that lie ahead.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Andy Brocato March 25, 2010 at 3:26 pm

Nice job guys and thanks for the updates. You are so right in that we are operating under such a different set of rules that we should all be looking at this from a different perspective. One other thought is getting to know the photographers because these are people that are now doing on air reporting as well (ie WKBW-TV). Might want to also touch on that at PR practitioners may need to hone their “behind-the-scenes” producing skill and/or start learning about camera angles, mechanics of packaging stories because that will make a difference as well. Thanks!

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Megan Webb March 25, 2010 at 3:59 pm

Hi Andy, I definitely agree. Photos and camera angles are now another area to think about for PR professionals. Thanks for your comment.

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John Manzella March 25, 2010 at 3:46 pm

Bob: Great articles. Nice work.

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Megan Webb March 25, 2010 at 3:59 pm

Thanks John.

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Brenda Alesii March 26, 2010 at 5:58 pm

Love the info-packed articles. I agree wholeheartedly on TV mechanics and the importance of understanding the challenges of each medium.

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