The Top 12 Journalistics Posts of 2012

Our top posts for the year post have become a tradition at Journalistics. While some might think an annual rehash of posts is a weak attempt at squeezing one more blog post into the year, well, we’d have to agree with you. Regardless, it’s a great way to showcase the most popular content from the year for new readers – and it’s a great opportunity to get your feedback on the types of content you’d like to see more of in 2013. As you review our top 12 posts from 2012, we hope you’ll take a couple of minutes to comment on the post – either offering your feedback on posts from this year or chiming in on what you’d like to see from Journalistics in 2013.

Before I share this year’s top 12 posts, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for being a loyal reader of Journalistics’ content. I hope we will continue to meet your needs for public relations, journalism, and social media-related content in 2013. Without further delay, here are the top 12 posts of 2012.

1. The Journalism Movies Post – without question, this was the most-read and most-discussed post on Journalistics this year. We sure do love movies that have anything to do with journalism or media. While I missed a lot of great movies in the first pass at this post, I think it’s impossible to write this post and not have people chime in with their opinions about what you missed or how stupid you must be for not including a certain movie. I loved the feedback many of you shared – and really, the post was written mostly by our readers (most of whom got credit in the story for their suggestions). If you didn’t read the post (and you’re looking for movies to add to your Netflix queue), this would be a good place to start. Be sure to read the comments on this post, as there are a lot of great additions submitted by our readers.

2. Are Blog Posts Better Than Press Releases? – I have a love-hate relationship with press releases. On one hand, I’ve secured coverage in the biggest news outlets on the planet with a press release many times over the past 15 years. On the other hand, I’ve written thousands of press releases that should have never gone out the door. It’s part of the job at most organizations. In this post, I raise the question of whether or not it’s worth the time and effort to write and distribute press releases and suggest a company blog may be a better investment of time. If you think about it, a blog is your owned media channel where you control the message, build a following around your content, and improve the traffic generated to YOUR site through your efforts. If you had to choose between spending all your time on press releases or your company blog, where would you place your bets in 2013? I hope on the latter.

3. Getting Coverage for News Should Be Easy – it wouldn’t be a year on the Journalistics blog without me chiming in on the right and wrong ways to engage the media. This post highlights my perspectives on trying to get “news” coverage for topics that are far from newsworthy. On the flip side, I suggest that it’s relatively easy to generate publicity for real news. This is why PR agencies win awards for working on campaigns with strong news behind them. Any PR agency can win an award for promoting the latest Apple device (though I’m pretty sure most of us won’t get a chance to test that theory – they don’t need agencies to do that). I’d be more impressed to talk to the communications professionals that have success promoting products that compete with those that dominate market share already. That’s not the point of this post though – the point is finding the journalists and bloggers who consider your news to be newsworthy and ignoring those that won’t be interested. Trying to create news where there isn’t any is a recipe for failure in PR.

4. Networking Online and Offline – this isn’t the first time I’ve written about networking (the art of meeting people) on Journalistics, and I can guarantee it won’t be the last. I’m very passionate about networking and the importance of building relationships with people every day you are on this earth. Relationships are the currency of life. The bigger and better-managed your personal and professional network, the easier everything in your life will be. Don’t believe me? Try to imagine a situation where you didn’t need to talk to somebody to get something done. This post explores my thinking about balancing online and offline networking for building relationships in the social media age. I’d love to get your feedback on this post – whether you choose to reach out to me online or offline.

5. How to Create a Message Platform – if you want to get everyone on the same page with your key messages, it makes sense to get everything on the same page (or set of pages). That’s where your message platform comes in. I’m surprised by how many organizations continue to outsource the development of their messaging platforms to agencies and consultants. While I’ll be the first to recommend using professional messaging strategists to guide you through the process, you need to have some skin in the game. You should come to the table with a clear, crisp set of messaging ideas when you meet with your agency or messaging consultant for the first time. This post will help you develop your message platform without any outside help – but I’d still argue you need somebody that is impartial, objective, and capable of helping to transform your messaging ideas into a format that can be applied and communicating throughout (and outside of) your organization. Start with this post and go from there.

6. Find and Define Your Audiences – it’s one thing to know what you want to say, another to know how you’re going to say it, but that’s completely worthless until you know who you are going to say it to. Few communications professionals spend the time required to truly understand the audiences they’re trying to influence with their messaging. This post provides a variety of actionable suggestions for finding and defining your target audiences. If you invest the time and energy to do the steps I outline in this post, your communications efforts will be far more effective and fruitful in the coming year.

7. Quality Versus Quantity – maintaining a consistent flow of high-quality content is a challenge for any communicator. With Journalistics, we’ve had our highs and lows in terms of content production – and if we’re honest, 2012 as a whole was low in terms of quality content production. This post explored my perspective on the quality vs. quantity debate, encouraging discussion around the topic and suggesting it’s better to post when you’ve got something meaningful to say, rather than to simply keep the traffic numbers up. In a way, this is flawed logic. This is the equivalent of waiting until it rains to water your garden. If you use this approach, your plants will probably die. You need to keep your audience well-nourished, or they’ll look elsewhere for what they seek. As I reflect back on this post from 2012, I roll my eyes a bit. I can’t help but feel like I was making excuses for not putting the effort into the blog that you, as a loyal reader, deserved. It’s something I plan to change through action in 2013. Look forward to being well-fed with fresh, insightful content in the coming year.

8. Action, Reaction, Interaction, and Transaction – if there’s one post I wish had performed better in 2012, it’s this one. Maybe it was my timing on the post, or maybe the headline failed to grab your attention. If you’re only going to click through and read one of the posts on this list, make it this one. As your chart your communications strategies for 2013, I can’t think of a principle that’s more important for planning campaign outcomes. Any communications effort you undertake in 2013 should be driven to generate results across these four areas. In summary, my perspective on these “core four” outcomes are as follows:

  • Action – what do you want the reader to do when they receive your message? Do you want them to click on a link and go somewhere? Do you want them to share your content? Do you want them to comment? By knowing what you want them to do, you can better set things up for success (read the post for more).
  • Reaction – reaction is about emotion. How do you want the recipient to feel after reading your content? Do you want them to feel good about your brand – to like you more? Do you want them to laugh and be happy? I still can’t stop laughing about Dollar Shave Club’s video (if you didn’t see it, watch it now). The content was so good, I wanted to buy on the spot – I still might. Do you want them to love your brand through some show of loyalty? Grey Poupon’s “The Society of Good Taste” was a good one in this area – I proudly display the tote bag I got from joining the society this summer. Do you want them to be inspired? The Red Bull Stratos campaign comes to mind for this one. How could you not be inspired by this one? When you think about the content you create and share – what reaction do you want consumers to have? This is a big factor in creating great content.
  • Interaction – we’re not communicating message A to audience B anymore. We’re starting and managing conversations a micro-level with our audiences. As such, planning for interaction is a biggie for any communications program. You need to factor in how you will get the conversation going (and how you’ll participate in the conversation) as part of your communications planning.
  • Transaction – an obvious, but often overlooked outcome is transaction. How can you drive transaction as a direct result from your communications efforts? B2B and B2C marketers are doing it successfully everyday. Is there a communication tactic you can think of that directly connects with your transaction engine? It can be as simple as linking to a page where somebody can buy your product or service, or maybe it’s a subtle call to action that gets them into your pipeline. Successful content marketers are offering valuable content to their audiences as a give for the take of participating in a demo or presentation. What do you have of value to offer to get your audiences closer to a transaction? That’s a good question to take into your 2013 marketing planning sessions.

9. Message Planning – I was on a bit of a messaging kick this past fall, due mostly to my new role leading content marketing, social media, and influencer communications as a leading, global Unified Marketing Agency (shameless plug). This post kicked off a series of posts related to message strategy development and all the underlying components of strategic message development. This series is still a work-in-progress heading into 2013, but I trust you’ll find several of the posts and ideas referenced in this post to be helpful for your own message development needs. Please feel free to share your ideas and suggestions for the series on any of the posts you read.

10. Message Mapping – communications strategy is all about relevancy and context these days. The most effective way to achieve relevancy and context among your target audiences is to map your messages to each audience based on their interests, their needs for information, and the media they use to find and consume that information. This post explores some tips for approaching the message mapping process as a starting point for your communications planning.

11. 10 Things I Love About SXSW – I don’t know about you, but SXSW is still my favorite show of the year. Maybe it’s my love of Bar-B-Que, maybe it’s my secret desire to dress like a cowboy, or maybe it’s just the great people that make the annual pilgrimage to Austin to talk all things digital (and partake in a party or two). Let me know if you’re planning to attend SXSW 2013 – perhaps we can connect and take this discussion offline?

12. Where to Spend Your Marketing Budget in 2013 – my most recent post on where you should spend that 2013 marketing budget of yours rounds out the list of the top 12 blog posts of 2012. Read the post from yesterday for a fresh perspective on the areas I believe are most important for marketers to consider when planning their 2012 campaigns.

Those were the top 12 posts from 2012. I have to be honest, it was a pretty weak year for content on Journalistics. In a strange way, it’s incredibly motivating to write this type of post. I’m looking forward to building out the content calendar for 2013. I’ve already got a fresh batch of content in the works that will put this list to shame. I have no doubt the competition for the Top 13 Posts of 2013 will be fierce. If you’re interested in joining in the competition, we’ve decided to consider guest posts from our peers again in 2013. We’ll be a bit more restrictive than we’ve been in the past, but will welcome any great content on public relations, journalism, or social media topics in 2013.

The following posts were all from 2012. However, it’s important to point out that if I had ranked the top 12 posts for the year in terms of total traffic, some posts from previous years would have made the list. For those of you that are new to Journalistics, you might find some of these classic posts from the archive of interest (I’ll be updating some of these posts with a fresh perspective – or fresh data – in 2013). Thanks again for reading Journalistics.

  • The Best Schools for Journalism – originally from 2009, this post has consistently ranked as one of our most read posts since 2009. It began with a simple poll of our Twitter followers – asking them to chime in with which schools they felt had the best journalism program. The post created a bit of a stir among readers (people tend to be pretty passionate about their alma maters). While the post was based on far-from-scientific data, the list of schools that made the cut are impressive nonetheless. This is one of those posts I plan to revisit with a more objective and scientific approach in 2013. For now, see if your school made the cut.
  • Five Ws and One H – this is one of my favorite posts from the past couple of years. You can never go wrong with answering the Five Ws and One H with your newswriting (or any writing for that matter). It’s a great approach for outlining your press releases or mapping out a blog post to ensure you cover all the basics of your story.
  • The Best Day to Send a Press Release – this is one of those questions that comes up from readers all the time. Is there an optimal time to send a press release? In a word? No. Are there factors you should consider in terms of timing? Absolutely. Check out the post and decide for yourself when you should send out your next press release.
  • How to Make Your Boilerplate Sizzle – another oldie but goodie, this basic advice for press release writing is among the most popular content on Journalistics. The truth is, this type of basic advice is so often overlooked on other public relations-related blogs. When it comes to maintaining the consistency of your message across your media activity, your boilerplate is one of the most powerful tools you have in your PR toolbox.
  • 91 Journalism Blogs and Websites You Wil Love – another list post that needs to be updated, I wrote this post back in 2009 – and spent weeks researching the resources I put on this list. It wasn’t a quick post by any stretch of the imagination. Unfortunately, to maintain this sort of list, it takes time. I welcome anyone with more free time than me at the moment to help me in updating the list. If you know of a great journalism blog or website that should be added to the list (or if one of the resources on the list is out of date), please comment on the post and I’ll edit with your update (and probably give you credit in the post for your efforts). Thanks in advance for your help. As a side note, let me know if you’d like me to turn this post into a directory page we can keep updated more frequently as a resource for Journalistic readers. I’m game if you are – we could put it in a wiki or something like that.
  • How Do You Measure PR? – PR measurement will always be a hot topic. While new approaches and tools are introduced every year, the basics remain the same. Let me know if you have suggested edits to update this post from 2009. For now, you should still find some value in my recommendations from this one.

Those are the big ones from previous years. Between these older posts and the list of top 12 posts from 2012, I hope you’ve discovered some new Journalistics content to enjoy as we head into 2013. As a reminder, please comment on this post with your suggestions for content you’d like to see in the months to come. And thanks again for being a loyal Journalistics reader (I am still amazed by how many of you read the blog on a regular basis now). It’s why I keep doing it – it’s all for you.

And of course… Happy New Year! Here’s to a healthy, happy, and prosperous 2013 for all of you!

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