Category Archives: Public Relations

PR is 80% more effective than content marketing.

Source: InPowered & Neilsen

Source: InPowered & Nielsen

According to a recent study sponsored by InPowered and conducted by Nielsen, content marketing is 88% less effective than public relations, due in large part to the outsize influence earned media wields over the public.    According to the study, earned media – defined as content created by credible third party experts – consistently provided more benefit to brands than did user generated or branded content.

Credibility is the key

The stat is interesting for all sorts of reasons, not the least of which is the simple fact that marketers are very good at measuring outcomes, something that PR has continued struggle with. The fact that Nielsen has identified the potent effect of credible third-party mentions has upon potential customers across the various stages of the buying cycle should make PR measurement mavens sit up and take note.

With all the conversation about, investment in and discussion of content marketing over the last few years, one has to wonder exactly what makes PR efforts so much more valuable in terms of driving business than content marketing campaigns.

The answer is credibility.  It’s devilishly hard to produce branded content that is truly credible.  The content brands publish (even this little blog post!) all have underlying agendas, and sometimes, those agendas aren’t too thinly veiled.

Earned media & influence 

Earned media, on the other hand, is widely perceived as being more credible and authentic.  Therein are the keys to its influence – and that’s where public relations can really shine. PR practitioners understand influence, how it accrues and from where it flows. PR pros understand the subtleties of the story and how to wrap information in context that makes sense to an audience.

It’s little wonder that PR is behind the blockbuster headlines, viral videos and other content that fills our newsfeeds and floats to the top of search engine results.

Marketing tactics PR should steal 

All that said, as a content marketer myself, I do believe that there are opportunities for PR to steal some important tactics from the content marketing toolbox.  Digital marketers test and refine messages continually, and have developed a range of best practices for developing web-based cntent that works, and other communicators can borrow those tactics to improve their own campaigns.

Designing press releases and other content with reader actions in mind is one such recommendation.  Think of it this way: every piece of content your brand issues online- press releases, blog posts, articles, backgrounders, etc. — becomes a web page. That specific web page can be seen in search engines and  shared on social networks. When that page captures the fleeting attention of a visitor, your organization has the opportunity to communicate powerfully and personally with that person. Within that moment, you have their attention and with it, the opportunity to channel their next actions.

Marketers obsess over this opportunity to drive audience action: they test different scenarios and obsessively tweak language and layout to determine what works best. While it’s not reasonable to think that we have the opportunity to send 25 different versions of the same press release to see which generates the best results, we can definitely take some broad best practices from digital markers and apply them to our messages.

Those tactics are detailed in the recent blog post titled “Extreme Makover: Press Release Edition,” and the slide deck embedded above.

Author Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of content marketing, and is the author of  the ebook  New School Press Release TacticsFollow her on Twitter at @sarahskerik.

Content We Love: News Writing in a News Release

ContentWeLove

One of my fondest childhood memories is visiting the Museum of Natural History and looking up in awe at the massive replicas of dinosaur skeletons. Tyrannosaurus Rex was always my favorite. To me, its enormous jaws and ferociousness as depicted in popular culture were symbols of its strength and supremacy above all other beings. After reading the press release “Perot Museum Paleontologists Discover Pygmy Tyrannosaur That Roamed Ancient Arctic Lands of Alaska,” those feelings of wonder and amazement came rushing back to me.

Paleontologists from the Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas have discovered a new genus and species of a tyrannosaur that once roamed the ancient Arctic lands of Northern Alaska.  Formally named Nanuqsaurus hoglundi, the animal is a pygmy tyrannosaur, whose first name is in honor of the Inupiat people whose traditional territory includes the land where these bones were found.  The second name is in honor of Dallas entrepreneur and philanthropist Forrest Hoglund, whose extraordinary leadership helped raise $185 million to build the new Perot Museum, which opened in late 2012.  ILLUSTRATION BY KAREN CARR.  (PRNewsFoto/Perot Museum of Nature and Science)

Paleontologists from the Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas have discovered a new genus and species of a tyrannosaur that once roamed the ancient Arctic lands of Northern Alaska. ILLUSTRATION BY KAREN CARR. (PRNewsFoto/Perot Museum of Nature and Science)

This announcement is not just a press release, it’s a story, and utilizing a distribution network to share that story places it in front of hundreds or even thousands of people who can emotionally connect with it.

Though one of the press release tactics discussed on Beyond PR highlights the efficiency of short form press releases, The Perot Museum of Science and Nature uses a longer format to tell a complete story enhanced by captivating illustrations. Their smart integration of compelling news writing with the clout of news release distribution  makes this message the subject of this week’s Content We Love.

PR pros should make note of the following characteristics of this release:

  • Visuals:  Including an artist’s rendering of what the new discovery might have looked like as a visual asset allows this story to truly resonate with audiences.
  • Long-form content makes it easy for journalists to cover this story because it’s essentially already written for them. The press release includes the origins of the name Nanuqsaurus hoglundi as well as how the discovery was made. The story earned media pick up from outlets including Fox News and NBC News, both of which republished the image from the press release on their websites.
  • Providing associated content:  The announcement promotes a scientific paper right under the lead paragraph that most people outside of the profession would not have access to. Plugging the manuscript toward the top of the release and a restrained use of links establishes a focused call-to-action for readers.
  • Promoting the content. Finally, sharing this message on a platform that is well established as a source for reliable news information also locks down the museum’s own credibility as scientific leaders and builds overall visibility.

This press release from the Perot Museum of Science and Nature shows that if you want to earn attention from news media, you can use a press release to write it yourself and share a story that readers will remember.  Congrats on a job well done!

Gravatar

Author Shannon Ramlochan is the Content Marketing Coordinator at PR Newswire. Follow her on Twitter @sramloch

A look at how PR Newswire serves the media

We talk a lot about the online visibility of press releases, but we’ve never lost sight of the fact that the #1 reason why most organizations use PR Newswire is to reach professional journalists  with their message.  Media pick up is still vitally important.  We know that, and we make a point of catering to the tens of thousands of reporters, editors, bloggers and producers for whom PR Newswire is a trusted source.

Free on-demand media webinar! 

The new PRNJ home page

The new PRNJ home page

We’ve made some big changes to how many of the journalists subscribing to PR Newswire see the news you issue, and thought you’d be interested in seeing how we present your news to them via PR Newswire for Journalists (“PRNJ”,)  our private, media-only web site.

First, let’s talk about why we have a media-only site – something no other newswire service offers – rather than relying upon our external web site to serve journalists.    First and foremost, many organizations still distribute news releases that truly are for media eyes only, such as invitations to press conferences and other media events, media and analyst calls and embargoed releases.    Additionally, many of our clients prefer not to make media contact information public, which is we mask the names and phone numbers of PR contacts at the bottom of a large portion of our press releases on our public site.   However, media contact information is vitally important, and it’s on every release on PRNJ.

Because of the sensitivity of this information, we credential each and every journalist and blogger registering for PRNJ.   Furthermore, we have a team of media relations professionals on staff who assist new PRNJ registrants as needed with things like setting up news feeds and using ProfNet.

This level of service and detail is expensive – there’s no doubt we could save a lot of money if we didn’t have tools and teams in place to build and serve the community of journalists and bloggers that access PR  Newswire news.  But we think you’ll agree that this is pretty important audience, and it’s not one we choose to ignore.

Beyond Bylines - our new media blog.

Beyond Bylines – our new media blog.

A few weeks ago, we launched a gorgeous, sleek new version of PRNJ, featuring fast and simple navigation, advantageous display of news releases and the compilation of a host of tools and other goodies for PRNJ members, including:

  • A responsive site optimized for all devices, from desktops to smartphones, and everything in between.
  • Saved news searches: the ability to turn a simple headline search into custom news feed that dynamically updates simply by saving the search.
  • Headline links to other news releases from the same issuer: When viewing one of your press releases, PRNJ users also have at-a-glance access to other news issued by your company or organization.
  • Fast access to Profnet experts.  ProfNet is now embedded within PRNJ, enabling journalists to search the expert dB or issue a query seeking expert commentary from within PRNJ.
  • A new community page featuring a new media-focused blog, Beyond Bylines,  a digest of media industry news and moves and a jobs bank.

We know PRNJ works – the numbers don’t lie.  Almost 30,000 registered users access the site each month, and together, they average more than a million press release views each month.  (Pro tip: check your Visibility Reports for a summary of PRNJ activity each of your press releases receives when you order media distribution for your news.)

Want more ideas on how to make your news and pitches stand out? View our FREE on-demand webinar about how newsrooms have been impacted by the changing digital media environment featuring a panel from the Poynter Institute, the Washington Post and new mobile news site Circa.  Register. 

Video courtesy of our friends at MultiVu. 

[Webinar] How Newsrooms are Adapting to the Changing Digital Media Environment

As the digital age transforms how people find, consume, and share information, media outlets are being challenged to retool their newsrooms and evolve their coverage. Despite limited resources, news organizations are investing heavily on people and technology to deliver stories that satisfy audience appetites for rich visuals, mobile-friendly design, and up-to-the minute reporting.

The panelists include:

Ellyn Angelotti, senior faculty, the Poynter Institute 

Follow her on Twitter at @ellynangelotti 

Theodore Kim, mobile/tablet editor, the Washington Post Follow him on Twitter at @TheoTypes 

 

David Cohn, news editor, Circa 

Follow him on Twitter at @Digidave

Join us for what promises to be a fast-moving conversation on how today’s media is evolving as journalists adapt to a faster news cycle.

The panel discussion will cover:

  • The changing roles of journalists and bloggers
  • How news media are adapting news to new formats and mediums
  • Tips for how PR pros can provide more value to today’s news media

View the on-demand webinar

MEDIA News: Media Moves at CBS Evening News, The Onion, Huffington Post and More…

http://prnbloggers.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/agility-logo.png?w=127&h=125&h=125PR Newswire’s Audience Research Department makes thousands of updates to the  database of journalists and bloggers that underpins our Agility media targeting and distribution platform.  Below is a sampling of recent media moves and news from the research team.  Learn more about Agility media targeting here.

CBS Evening News CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley  (New York): Chip Colley (@ChipColley) is now the News Director @CBSEveningNews.

The Onion The Onion (Chicago, IL): The satirical online news outlet (@TheOnion) has named Cole Bolton Editor-in-Chief, replacing Will Tracy who recently left the outlet. Bolton most recently served as Head Writer.

Huffington Post Huffington Post (New York, NY): Emily Peck (@EmilyRPeck) was promoted from Business and Tech Editor to Executive Business Editor @HuffingtonPost.

The Weather Channel The Weather Channel (Atlanta, GA): Former WWLP-TV News Reporter Anaridis Rodriguez (@Anaridis) has left the station to join @weatherchannel as News Anchor for their new morning show @AMHQ.

ESPN ESPN (Bristol, CT): Beginning today, Britt McHenry (@BrittMcHenry) will begin reporting for ESPN. She will be stationed in Washington, D.C.

FreedomCommunication Freedom Communications (Santa Ana, CA): Excelsior & La Prensa will be merging to create Freedom Communication’s (@FreedomComm) new newspaper, Unidos. Unidos is set to debut on Friday, March 21 and will be published weekly.

The Associated Press Associated Press – Chicago Bureau (Chicago, IL): Greg McCune (@gregamccune)  joins (@ap) as Desk Editor for the Midwest region, responsible for news coverage in 14 Midwest states from Midwest Editor for Reuters America Service.

Los Angeles Register Los Angeles Register (Los Angeles, CA): Freedom Communications has set April 16 as the launch date for the Los Angeles Register (@LARegisterNews). Ron Sylvester (@rsylvester) is the Editor.

Crain's Chicago Crain’s Chicago Business (Chicago, IL): Editor Cassie Walker Burke (@cassiechicago) is set to join the trade magazine (@CrainsChicago) as an Assistant Managing Editor from lifestyle pub Chicago Magazine (@ChicagoMag).

CNBC CNBC (New York, NY): “The Kudlow Report” will end production at the end of this month. Larry Kudlow (@larry_kudlow) will remain as a Senior Contributor @CNBC.

The Washington Times The Washington Times (Washington, DC): David Dadisman (@dcdadisman) is the new General Manager @WashTimes.

The New York Times The New York Times (New York, NY): Fashion Editor at the Financial Times Vanessa Friedman (@VVFriedman) has been tapped to become Fashion Director and Chief Fashion Critic. In addition, Alexandra Jacobs has been promoted to Fashion Critic and Fashion Features Writer.

Wall Street Journal The Wall Street Journal (New York, NY): Reporter Suzanne Vranica (@vranicawsj) has been promoted to Advertising and Marketing Industry Editor. Also happening @WSJ, Former Adweek Digital Editor Mike Shields (@digitalshields) has joined on as Senior Editor and Liz Heron (@lheron) has announced her departure from her role there as Emerging Media Editor.

FOX Deportes Fox Deportes (New York, NY): Carlos Sánchez has been named General Manager of Fox Deportes (@FOXDeportes)

GOVERNING Governing (Washington, DC): Former Kansas City Mayor Mark Funkhouser (@mayorfunk) takes the reins as Publisher @GOVERNING.

CQ Roll Call CQ Weekly (Washington, DC): Benton Ives (bives@cqrollcall.com) is now the Editor-in-Chief. And David Ellis is the new Vice President of News @CQRollCall.

Houston Chronicle The Houston Chronicle (Houston, TX): Former Austin Statesman (@statesman) Reporter/Blogger, Mike Ward (@ChronicleMike), has joined @HoustonChron.

News & Record News & Record (Greensboro, NC): Steven Doyle has been named Managing Editor @newsandrecord. He arrives from The Sentinel-News in KY and starts this week.

Star Tribune Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN): Suki Dardarian (@SukiDardarian) has been named Senior Managing Editor and Vice President at the paper, starting in April. She was previously with the Seattle Times.

Chicago Sun-Times (Chicago, IL): Sports Reporter Tina Akouris (@takouris) and longtime Journalist Dave Hoekstra (@DaveHoekstra66) are no longer with the paper (@SunTimes).

Chicago Reader Chicago Reader (Chicago, IL): Senior Editor Jake Malooley (@JakeMalooley) has joined the alternative weekly newspaper (@Chicago_Reader) as Managing Editor from @TimeOutChicago. Deputy Editor Sam Worley recently left the pub.

The Greenville News The Greenville News (Greenville, SC): Long-time newsman William Fox has been named Managing Editor of The News (@GreenvilleNews). He replaces veteran Managing Editor Chris Weston.

Essence Magazine Essence Magazine (New York, NY): Essence Magazine (@essencemag) welcomes back Pamela Edwards Christiani as Beauty and Style Director. Also, Charreah Jackson (@Charreah) moves from Associate Editor to Relationships Editor.

The Hartford Courant (Hartford, CT): After nearly three decades with the paper, Political Editor Rick Green (@CTConfidential) has said good-bye.

Law360 Law360 (New York, NY): Kaitlyn Kiernan (@kaitlyn_Kiernan) moves from Options Reporter for The Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) and Dow Jones Newswires to Private Equity Reporter @Law360.

REDBOOK Redbook Magazine (New York, NY): Julia Malacoff (@jmalacoff) announced her departure from her role as Assistant Fashion Editor at Redbook (@redbookmag).

GQ Magazine (New York, NY): Andrew Richdale (@therichdale) has left his Associate Editor position @GQMagazine.

60 Minutes 60 Minutes- CBS (New York, NY): CBS News announced come Fall 2014, Bill Whitaker (@billwhitakerCBS) will move to New York as a Correspondent on 60 Minutes (@60minutes).

CBS (New York, NY): Investigative Correspondent Sheryl Attkisson (@SharylAttkisson) has resigned.

Digiday Digiday (New York, NY): Former Adweek (@Adweek) Senior Editor Lucia Moses (@lmoses) joins @Digiday and will assume the same role.

Business Insider Business Insider (New York, NY): Madeline Stone (@MadelineLStone) was promoted from Intern to Tech Lifestyle Reporter @businessinsider.

VANITY FAIR Vanity Fair (New York, NY): Mark Rozzo is moving from Executive Editor at Town & Country (@TandCmag) to Deputy Editor @VanityFair.

InStyle InStyle (New York, NY): InStyle (@InStyle) welcomes Nika Vagner (@Niksterr) as Social Media Editor. She was formerly at Entertainment Weekly (@EW).

Mashable Mashable (New York, NY): Former New York Times (@nytimes) Senior Editor Jonathan Ellis (@jonathanellis) will join @mashable as Managing Editor March 31st.

NBC (New York, NY): Longtime National Correspondent Jamie Gangel (@JamieGangel) has left after 31 years.

Washington Post The Washington Post (Washington, DC): Arelis Hernandez (@ahernandez_OS) is returning to the Post after a stint at The Orlando Sentinel to be a Prince George’s County Reporter.

AFAR Media Afar Magazine (San Francisco, CA): Andrew Richdale (@therichdale) joins Afar (@AFARMedia) as a Senior Editor. Andrew was previously with GQ.

CNET CNET (San Francisco, CA): Ashley Esqueda (@ashleyesqueda) joins @cnet as a Senior Editor and Host.

Fit Pregnancy Natural Health Mag Fit Pregnancy/Natural Health (Woodland Hills, CA): Catherine Peridis (@Catperidis) joins Fit Pregnancy (@fitpregnancy) and @_NaturalHealth as Fashion Editor.

refinery29 Refinery29 (http://www.refinery29.com): Erin Fitzpatrick (@erin_fitz09) was promoted to Los Angeles Editorial Assistant (@refinery29).

LasVegasSun The Sunday (Henderson, NV):  This is a new free weekly publication edited by Delen Goldberg (@DelenGoldberg) which was launched by Greenspun Media Group and the Las Vegas Sun. The publication was recently launched in the Las Vegas Metro area and covers news, current events and lifestyle.

MEDIAware’s full weekly version can be found at:www.prnewswire.com/knowledge-center/medi…

PR Newswire’s Audience Research Department provides daily updates on Twitter (twitter.com/PRNmedia).

Detailed outlet and contact information is available at Agility (agility.prnewswire.com).

Content We Love: GoBankingRates.com Goes Off Without a Pitch

ContentWeLove

Click to view the entire press release from GoBankingRates.com

Click to view the entire press release from GoBankingRates.com

The digital age has enabled content creators to become content distributors in their own right by engaging on social platforms. But in the mix of today’s owned, earned, and paid media environment, social channels can be limiting in their ability to reach beyond their followers and garner attention from new audiences. Over the holidays, GoBankingRates.com issued a press release to share the findings of a study they conducted on leading retailers titled “Stores with the Best and Worst Return Policies.” The release- which the company told us they did not pitch in advance- generated excellent media coverage on major outlets such as Good Morning America and ABC News.

Click to view the video of GoBankingRates.com featured on Good Morning America

Click to view the video of GoBankingRates.com featured on Good Morning America

The brand used a PR-savvy combination of engaging, informative content with the power of press releases to raise awareness of their message and build credibility, and the results they experienced are a testament to the fact that press releases are still highly regarded sources of information for both journalists and consumers.  For these reasons, GoBankingRates.com’s story is the subject of this week’s Content We Love.

In addition to a strong story and excellent timing, several notable elements of this press release made it optimal for earning media coverage:

  • Visual assets stop the eye and grab the reader’s attention against a sea of text. Most press releases don’t contain a visual element, which allows this company to differentiate their message against competitors and increase visibility.
  • The copy is stripped of corporate jargon and supplies readers with just the facts. In just 46 characters, the direct and to-the-point headline provides readers with a complete context of what the story is about and encourages them to read on and share on social channels.
  • Bullet points break down the results in an easily digestible format.
  • A call to action links to a blog post that drives traffic back to the company website.
Assets from the GoBankingRates.com press release are republished in a Fox News article

Assets from the GoBankingRates.com press release are republished in a Fox News article

GoBankingRates.com shared a story so valuable to their audience that all it needed was distribution to propel it forward. As evidenced by their impressive media coverage, even though distribution comes in a variety of formats today, journalists still look to press releases as a source of trustworthy information and creative story ideas. But it’s not about what a single platform can do for your message; it’s about how integrating distribution in all its forms to promote truly interesting content can drive an ongoing conversation and maximizes visibility for your brand. The exposure that GoBankingRates.com generated through original media coverage firmly positioned the company as a thought-leader in personal finance. Kudos to GoBankingRates.com on a job well done!

GravatarAuthor Shannon Ramlochan is the Content Marketing Coordinator at PR Newswire. Follow her on Twitter @sramloch

Trend ID Algorithms: What Communicators Need to Know

During the height of the Occupy Wall St. movement, some speculated censors were at work, because the related hashtag didn't trend.

During the height of the Occupy Wall St. movement, some speculated censors were at work, because the related hashtag didn’t trend.

Trend ID algorithms - such as the one powering trends on Twitter - reward spikes,  which is why Occupy didn't stand a chance against a Kardashian wedding.

Trend ID algorithms – such as the one powering trends on Twitter – reward spikes, which is why Occupy (the cobalt blue line, with consistent levels over time) didn’t stand a chance against a Kardashian wedding (purple line), Steve Jobs (yellow) or a popular hashtag used by individual tweeters (grey.)

You may not realize it, but much of what you see online is determined by the algorithms that power search engines and social networks.  Designed to surface the information that is most compelling, and likely to get you to read the article/view the video/take the survey – and then share it with your friends – algorithms are doing more than serving information.  They are shaping journalism and arguably, having a negative impact on democracy, according to Heidi McBride, a senior member of the faculty of the Poynter Institute and Gilad Lotan, chief data scientist for Betaworks, during the discussion they lead at South by Southwest.

“Trend identification algorithms are all over the web,” Lotan stated. “We have to think about the power they encode, and that is the power to draw attention.”

Learn more about how the digital evolution has impacted newsrooms and journalism by viewing our on-demand webinar, “The Evolution of Media: How Newsrooms are Adapting to the Ever-Changing Digital Environment.”

On web sites everywhere, data scientists are using algorithms to find and display content that is likely to draw readers and inspire social sharing (thus drawing more readers.)  These numbers have an economic impact – after all,  Google, Facebook, CNN and the New York Times are all add-supported, and more visitors to their web sites (and visitors who stay longer) equal more ad impressions, and thus, more dollars.

In building the trend ID algorithms, data scientists are looking for trends away from the norm.

“We look for spikes, things out of the ordinary, outliers,” noted Lotan. “And activities around celebs spike much more dramatically than other conversations.”

There’s a self-reinforcing effect as the journalism companies respond to the algorithms, as the algorithms have an economic effect on the journalistic companies, effectively steering news coverage.

Lotan reminded us that algorithms are created by humans, and thus may reflect their creators’ biases or preferences.  Additionally, he noted that algorithms can be selectively manipulated, citing as a case in point changes Twitter made when Justin Beiber was constantly trending, causing user complaints. The team changed the algo, making it more difficult for Beiber to trend.  Another example of selective algorithm manipulation happens on the search engine side of the house, such as when Google penalized JC Penney for poor SEO practices by dropping the Penney website to the bottom of the rankings heap.

What’s needed, McBride and Lotan posited, is more public understanding of how these algorithms work, and more transparency from the companies employing them.

“The companies that control our attention to so without any transparency,” McBride stated. “We build our understanding of ourselves and the world around us through the stories we tell, and if algorithms only reinforce certain types of stories, it reduces our understanding of ourselves and our communities.”

The session did offer one important tactical take-away for brands.  Stories take hold fast and algorithms reinforce this.  If a problematic story is gathering steam, swift response is absolutely essential. The more quickly you can correct information, the more quickly the entire news democracy can reference that information as the topic trends.  But if you miss the gap, your message will be left by the wayside. Click to register for the our free webinar on March 20 at 1:00 ET.

Click to register for the our free on-demand webinar 

You can also read more from this session on The Guardian’s extensive recap.

Author Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of content marketing, and is the author of  the ebook  New School Press Release TacticsFollow her on Twitter at @sarahskerik.

Beat the Clock: Investigative Reporting In the Digital Age

 

Charles Robinson of Yahoo! Sports and Pete Thamel of Sports Illustrated swapped  war stories at SXSW this year.

Charles Robinson of Yahoo! Sports and Pete Thamel of Sports Illustrated swapped war stories at SXSW this year.

 

What has changed about investigative reporting in today’s fast-moving, socially-fueled digital environment?  To hear Charles Robinson (@charlesrobinson) a senior investigative reporter for Yahoo! Sports, and Pete Thamel (@SIPeteThamel), a senior writer for Sports Illustrated tell it, the answer is, “Just about everything.”

The two hosted a discussion titled “Investigative Reporting in the Digital Age,” at South By Southwest, drawing a packed house.

The day the news cycle changed 

Thamel set the tone, telling about a stint at a Dallas-based freelancer in the early 2000’s during which he acted as a stringer for the New York Times, pursuing a story about a missing Baylor basketball player that quickly turned into a story of murder.   In the days after the story broke, there were no new developments, and he had his nose to the grindstone, pursuing people who knew the player and suspect.  Progress was slow, until he got a call one day from the Times, telling him that the Dallas Morning News was reporting a significant development.  Thamel pushed back, saying he had read that paper cover to cover, and there was no story.

It turns out, the Dallas Morning News published the breaking news development on their web site.

“What!?!  They put it out there on the web before the paper!?”  Thamel recalls saying.

“It blew my mind,” he told the audience. “That was the first time the news cycle changed.

The two agreed that digital media has increased the clock speed of the news cycle, and the competition for not just stories, but for details.

“You ‘re not alone in your reporting,” said Robinson. “ Eveyone is out there digging.”

Deep background & social media 

Robinson told an entirely different tale, about the utility of social media in investigations.  He was on the cusp of breaking what would have been a blockbuster story about a high-ranking person in NCAA basketball placing bets on their school.   But to be absolutely certain of the identity of the person captured on video placing bets, they needed to see some more casual pictures of her – everything they had were polished head shots showing the woman in professional attire.

On her son’s Facebook page, they found current photos with which they were able to confirm the identity of the person on the video — she was the official’s sister.  The women looked uncannily alike, however, the reporting team noticed subtle differences between the two sisters in the casual images on Facebook.   The person on the video was the sister. There was no story, after all.

“Literally, in one day a story was born and it died – all because of what we can do digitally,” said Robinson. “Digital journalism saves you money, and it can save your [behind.]”

Social media is a tool, not a primary source

Ultimately, the mechanics of investigative journalism haven’t changed – the reporter develops a list of people, and talks to him.  However, social media provides a treasure trove of information for reporters and very helpful both as a starter tool for an investigation, as well as for background

Data mining through social media has added a ton of value for investigative journalism, Robinson noted, significantly shortening the time needed to build a story

“You can come to understand who people are,” Robinson told us in describing how he uses social media to get a sense for the people he’s researching.  “They will tell you who they are, their likes and dislikes, where they’ve worked, what they were doing – it gives you a sense of who the being is.  It gives you a head start that you didn’t have 10 years ago.”

Learn more about how the digital evolution has impacted newsrooms and journalism on our upcoming webinar, “The Evolution of Media: Howe Newsrooms are Adapting to the Ever-Changing Digital Environment.” 

Click to register for the our free webinar on March 20 at 1:00 ET.

Click to register for the our free webinar on March 20 at 1:00 ET.

Author Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of content marketing, and is the author of  the ebook  New School Press Release TacticsFollow her on Twitter at @sarahskerik.

Trust at Scale: Harnessing Authentic #Advocacy for Your Brand #SXSW

influencers v advocatesMedia fragmentation and information overload stymies ad effectiveness. Consumers are ignoring digital ads, and overall, trust in brands is declining, a trend which according to the Edelman Trust Barometer, is accelerating.

Influecers vs. Advocates

How can brands convey communications in a trustworthy matter that resonates with their audiences?  The key, according to Jim Larrison (@jlarrison) of Dynamic Signal, is advocacy, and this doesn’t simply mean paying an industry bigwig to tweet on your brand’s behalf.

Jim’s presentation centered on importance of finding passionate advocates amongst employees and the “mid-tail” of the influence spectrum – connected people who have enough social media pull to move the needle in a particular sector, and who really care about the industry or segment.

These trusted peers who are talking about relevant topics have the real ability to drive individual behavior.   And those ‘trusted peers’ include employees, who have significantly more credibility than the C-suite, according to the aforementioned Edelman Trust Barometer.

Why advocacy works is simple: it’s centered on trust, and done well, it’s trust at scale [tweet this].  But brands and marketers need to realize they’re not renting trust – it’s not a transactional relationship.  Herein lies the challenge, because most marketers today stop marketing at the buy.  They are optimizing for the purchase event, not building advocacy.

Rewards for advocacy can be surprisingly simple

The rewards advocates value are simple.  Employees are motivated by simple recognition, as are brand fans and followers.  Access to unique content and authentic relationships are also rewards they value.  And tangible rewards – membership in a group, swag and prizes, are also important — but not as much as the recognition and access.

Marketers who develop advocacy programs dramatically increase marketing effectiveness.   In addition to being authentic and credibility, empowering and cultivating advocates also covers more surface area within the marketplace.

Author Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of content marketing, and is the author of  the ebook  New School Press Release TacticsFollow her on Twitter at @sarahskerik.

A Twist on Crisis Planning: When Allies Attack

You’ve heard the adage “Familiarity breeds contempt,” and arguably, there’s no place it’s more true than in the realm of online opinion.  Today at SXSW, a session titled “Breaking the Mold: What to Do When Allies Turn” tackled the subject of frangible online alliances, and what to do when things go south.  The discussion was lead by:

  • Jehmu Greene, TV Commentator & Media Trainer at Fox News (@jehmu)
  • Joanne Bamberger, Editor/Publisher, Broad Side Strategies (@jlcbamberger)
  • Sally Kohn, Writer & TV Commentator, Movement Vision (@sallykohn)
Mmes Kohn, Bamberger and Greene.

Mmes Kohn, Bamberger and Greene. (Sally, thanks for making sure I knew who you were, but I recognized you from Crossfire. Just saying.)

Dealing with blowback is never fun, but when people or organizations that were you thought were in your corner turn the tables and attack, working through the situation can be demoralizing.

Kohn advised getting in front of potential problems by building credibility and goodwill within your community.  While goodwill won’t insulate you from online attackers,  building a credible and engaged network is a way to develop virtual comrades-in-arms.

When haters go “all sharknado” on you, it’s important to remember their motives, advised Bamberger.

“Haters are all about control,” Bamberger advised. “It’s not about you, it’s about them trying to stake out their territory.”

Kohn referenced the “Disapproval Matrix” created by Ann Friedman as a guide for discerning the difference between critics and haters.

Sussing out the difference between critics and haters is an important tactic in managing online attacks.  Critics care about the issue, and on some level are offering constructive feedback.  Haters, on the other hand, care more about themselves.  Embrace critics, and try to tune out the haters.

Planning for controversy is also crucial, all three agreed.  Anticipate reactions and have your facts locked down.

When dealing with rampant haters – the avalanches of nasty tweets and relentless evil e-mails – all three offered tips while also acknowledging the fact that meanness stings.

“Laughing at them takes their power away,” said Kohn.

” If you step in it, remember that $#*^ can be wiped off a shoe.” Greene agreed.

Ultimately, if everyone is agreeing with you, you’re not making an impact Greene reminded us.  Challenging conventional wisdom is leadership, and Kohn noted that sometimes, being liked isn’t part of that equation.

“You can’t worry about being liked,” summarized Kohn. “Negative blowback is one of the costs of leadership.”
Author Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of content marketing, and is the author of  the ebook  New School Press Release TacticsFollow her on Twitter at @sarahskerik.