JournalismSocial MediaTrends

Media Has Changed… It’s Time for PR to Catch Up

Let’s face it. If you you’re stuck with business as usual, this won’t be your year. Brands are racing to catch up with social consumers who have adopted new ways of shopping and recommending. And similar trends of change and adaptation hold true for the PR industry.

In the past, the PR professional led a relatively peaceful and predictable existence. Securing coverage mainly entailed forming close relationships with ‘A-list’ members of the media who reported on one’s company, industry, and competitors. Now and again, you could look beyond the typical rotation of journalists for new reporters covering related beats. Schedules were punctuated by the ebb and flow of editorial calendars planned far in advance. Time was measured in months or years. Contacts were held in a single Rolodex.

Not any more. The world of media has irrevocably changed. Social media, blogs, and other self-publishing tools have sparked an explosion of content and voices ⎯ at a scale and pace we have never seen before. Over the next 30 minutes, approximately 22,000 blog posts will go live, 2.3 million Tweets will fly, and Facebook users will post 2.77 million status updates and 41 million pieces of content. Then, factor in the steady stream of online articles from traditional media outlets, and an untold number of niche sites and other networks. What’s clear is that PR is no longer an industry where one tracks a relatively small number of voices across a finite number of media outlets. PR professionals today are drowning in an endless sea of online voices. Their job has become exponentially harder now that the medium of the Internet has become the media.

Successful marketers still need to identify (and engage) the opinion leaders, Influencers, and voices who have the ear of their market. However, yesterday’s approach simply won’t keep up with today’s media landscape.

Traditional media monitoring can’t distill the significant voices from all the noise on the web today. Imagine creating a target list of contacts based on generic beats like ‘technology’ or ‘software’. The number of results would be simply overwhelming. And what is there to do with a huge list of 1,000 targets? Not much beyond putting together a generic email and blasting out a press release to anyone and everyone who has ever written anything remotely related to your market. In a word… spam.

In order to stay relevant, the PR industry has to evolve. It’s as simple as that. If not, the relationship between PR and media will become strained beyond repair, and any correspondence from a PR professional will be viewed in the same light as the latest Nigerian email scam. At best, your emails end up in the trash bin; at worst, they end up on a blogger’s ‘wall of shame.’

Fortunately, a new set of tools is emerging to meet the realities of today’s media landscape. These tools automate the ‘busy work’ so PR professionals have the freedom to spend their time building actual relationships with the people that matter to their market or their client’s market.

Influencer Measurement uses technology to identify which voices matter and then heuristically determine who is the most important amongst those voices. These tools do the following:

• First, monitor voices across all forms of media (online publications, Twitter, blogs…) to find the voices that are topically relevant to any given market. And by this, I mean truly topically relevant, with enough granularity to differentiate between who’s writing about mobile coupons vs. RFID in the supply chain.

• Then take that pool of topically relevant individuals and determine which ones are the most influential…meaning which ones are most likely to spread your message and drive desired outcomes throughout your market. Such measurements are calculated using a variety of factors, including the number of readers/followers, frequency of writing, number and frequency of references, interviews, links, citations, and more.

Such influencer measurements can help marketers determine where to focus their efforts in order to produce the highest ROI. Given the sheer number of voices out there, a well-defined focus is a key to success. This is all about finding the needles in the haystacks of today’s media.

After narrowing your target list to a manageable number, you can begin the meaningful work ⎯ the part that can’t be replaced by technology. This includes building creative outreach campaigns and engaging with each influencer on a personal level. You now have the time to dig through each writer’s previous work to learn about his or her particular interests and angles and to determine where your news or product fits in. It’s simply the only way you can move beyond generic communications (aka spam) and succeed in the new media world.

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