Posts Tagged ‘Public Relations Boutiques International’

Trials, tribulations, and the impact of social media on the media industry

March 26, 2013

This blog post is courtesy of Joy Scott of fellow PRBI member firm Scott Public Relations:

From Vocus’ 2013 State of the Media Report

Looking for media coverage? Ignore social media at your own peril. About 80 percent of journalists use Twitter and Facebook for research. If you are not there, your story may be overlooked.

The 4th annual State of the Media Report from Vocus examines how social media impacts the digital media revolution, and how journalists and news organizations use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and others as tools to gather, promote and disseminate information.

Some of the key findings in this report surprised us (more than 100 newspapers folded in 2012), while others (media professionals still prefer to receive pitches through email) were expected.

Highlights from the report include:

Social media has empowered newspapers with the ability to “break in” and report the news immediately. David Coates, managing editor of newspaper content at Vocus Media Research Group, says, “It (social media) is very effective if journalists are providing a service, like breaking news or interesting and funny observations. It helps build their personal brands with readers”. These social media mechanisms help journalists draw traffic and maximize page views by building loyal followers.

Social media is now also used to supplement coverage. Some professionals give blow-by-blows of events, trials and television broadcasts now regularly include feedback found from monitoring social media sites. According to Julie Holley, managing editor of television content at Vocus Media Research Group, “Social media has been a gold mine for TV because it is cheap to use, easy to implement technologically speaking (short and easy set-up time), and viewers want to be part of the conversation.”

Engagement has become a main reason that many journalists choose to use/follow social media on a regular basis because it connects viewers/readers on a more personal level with the journalist covering their community.

Magazines have social media presence today – the direct interaction opportunity is too big to ignore.

In 2012, 165 magazines debuted, with 97 print and 68 online launches.

In 2012, 152 newspapers folded; 91 were weekly papers and 34 were online. The Orange County Register defied trends in 2012. Since Aaron Kushner has taken over, the paper has been on an editorial hiring and expansion spree.

PR professionals need to make sure they supply journalists with the materials they require to pursue a lead. Julie Holley advises PR professionals to “Control the message. Interact with the journalists. Follow them, comment on their stories and suggest story ideas. As always, know your audience and that of the journalist.”

Findings from the Vocus survey of media:

*all graphs are from Vocus’ State of the Media Report 2013



New Technologies Changing Public Relations in South Africa

April 13, 2012

As South Africa makes economic and technological advances, both traditional and social media are playing a larger role in people’s everyday lives. Changes in media have influenced the way individuals are informed and interact with each other, both in business and in their personal lives.

To get some insight into the changes taking place in South African media and public relations practices, I interviewed Marie Yossava, founder and owner of Grapevine Communications in Johannesburg. She was able to give us an overview of the communications landscape in South Africa and some of the changes in communications the country and people have experienced.  The firm is the newest member of PR Boutiques International, an international network of boutique PR firms of which Bridge Global Strategies is a founding member.

Bridge Global Strategies: How has the media landscape changed in South Africa since you started the company?

Marie Yossava: Vastly! The media consisted exclusively of print and broadcast outlets when I first ventured into the industry. It has subsequently evolved to include global social networks, which open up communication channels to the world within seconds. It’s significant that individuals in South Africa can now own their own media outlets online – not just big media companies. The immediacy is revolutionary. South Africa, compared to developed economies, already had a much smaller base of media to start with, but those traditional media – in particular, print titles – have seen a decline with the explosion of Web 2.0 media.

Bridge: What is your strategy for reaching the different age groups in different parts of the country (urban versus rural areas, and young versus older age groups)?

 MY: It is very important to understand the media with which different segments of the market communicate in South Africa. We still have many older people in our country who are illiterate. To reach an older audience in rural areas, broadcast (TV and radio) remains a powerful and effective means of communicating key messages.  That said, the cellular market in South Africa has more than 100 percent saturation, and even the elderly have mobile handsets.  While the mobile functionality may be limited and won’t always include a web browser, Twitter, and other applications, people can send and receive calls and text messages.  SMS and mobile website (“mobisite”) campaigns are also effective communications tools in reaching certain segments of the market.

In our country’s urban areas, the youth are all connected to the internet and social media platforms via their mobile phones, which makes it easy to use communications campaigns to alert them to new products and transmit important information. Mobile platforms are ideal for capturing the attention of younger audiences and for pulling them through to other platforms, e.g. a new edu-tainment TV series, or interesting articles.

Bridge: Please tell us how social media and smartphones have infiltrated into the marketing mix and PR in the country.

MY: At the outset of the digital era, companies, brands and agencies were slow to adopt social media, but as more and more of the population consumes daily information via smartphones, organizations are more readily agreeing to let PR agencies include the use of social media in their PR strategies and to make it an essential tool for messaging.

Today, social media can be regarded as an additional and important vehicle PR agencies can use to communicate key client messaging, urgent press statements and announcements at a speed that cannot be matched by any other medium, not even radio. From the outset, however, social media needs to be aligned to the client’s communication strategy and goals, and not seen in isolation or as an afterthought. It is also important to understand that it requires regular content updates to gain a following, and decisive, quick responses to build credibility.

To cite an example, local commuters were recently stuck in an underground train when it broke down. With a simple tweet, the communications representative of the rail company could have informed passengers as to what had caused the delay and how long they could expect to wait. Even if only a few of the passengers were Twitter subscribers, the information would have soon spread through the train via word of mouth.

Bridge: What has your experience been being a woman in the PR business in South Africa? How is it different or similar from other countries?

MY: When I arrived in South Africa more than 20 years ago, things seemed very different from what I had experienced previously, working in London. However I have had the good fortune to experience the very exciting progress of the new economy that has occurred since the turning point of our new democracy in 1994, which has fast-tracked women and advanced their progress. So much so that South Africa is now fourth on the list of countries with the highest representation of women in parliament in the world.

Secondly, I operate in what remains a female-dominated business sector in our country, so there are no barriers to dealing with clients, and we are well accepted and regarded in the profession.  I also believe it is the responsibility of leaders in our industry to continually raise the bar for our profession if we are to be accepted at a senior board/management level and be part of organisations’ overall business strategies.

Bridge: My final question: how has apartheid affected communications and PR? How has the landscape changed to adjust to the political changes?

MY: I am not able to provide an informed comment as Grapevine was established post the apartheid era, so our business has always operated in an open and free market.  We also operate in a democracy with freedom of speech so our media channels are open and transparent.

Market opportunities for all races are equal in our industry and this is reflected by the number of black practitioners.  Public Relations Institute of South Africa’s (PRISA) current vice president is Mr. Aaron Ngema, and our immediate past president was Mr. Victor Sibeko.

Alexandra Huebner

Get Lucy Siegel’s book at Amazon!  “Public Relations Around the Globe: A Window on International Business Culture”

Media Pay for Play: a Bad, Old Practice Lives On

April 2, 2012

Today I stumbled across an online discussion in a LinkedIn marketing group about what we in the PR industry call “pay for play,” or the requirement that a company pay for an ad or sponsorship in order to be included in editorial coverage. The discussion was started by an associate publisher at a trade magazine company (read here “ad sales executive”).

He wrote, “Over the last few years PR firms have become increasingly aggressive in pushing editorial ‘collaborations’ for their clients, many of whom are nowhere to be seen from a publication advertising support perspective!”  His message:  companies that don’t advertise in a particular publication shouldn’t expect to be covered unless what they’re offering is groundbreaking news. Implied in his statement was that advertisers do deserve the  right to be covered, whether or not they have anything newsworthy or of interest to say.

As a PR firm owner and practitioner with many years of experience, preceded by journalism experience (both newspaper and trade media), I maintain that journalists  have no obligation to cover anyone – advertisers or non-advertisers. The only obligation they have is to inform their readers/viewers in an honest and timely way. If this means they end up not covering an advertiser because the company has nothing worthwhile to communicate, then so be it. If the advertiser doesn’t like this, there are always other media to advertise in.

Non-advertisers deserve the same balanced editorial coverage as advertisers.

It’s our policy as an agency to decline pay for play offers.  Sometimes a media outlet will approach a client directly and offer the opportunity to be included in a special issue of a magazine, or to be interviewed by a news broadcaster, or take part in a film, if the client would just pay a certain amount to “cover expenses.” On a few occasions clients have been tempted by these offers.  Generally, a little research on the publication or TV production company has demonstrated that the offer isn’t the great opportunity it was cracked up to be.

A couple of years ago, one of our clients received a call offering an interview on national TV, “Inside Business,” with Fred Thompson, the Republican politician, columnist and radio host. Our client was told there would be a fee of about $20,000 to cover the production company’s costs, but still thought this would bring some valuable visibility. We did some looking around online and found websites with discussions from other businesses that had taken the bait and were bitterly disappointed and angry at the outcome. Their biggest complaint was usually about the distribution of the video that was produced. Their interviews were aired at some ungodly hour when nobody would be watching TV – say, 5 a.m. on a Sunday morning. When we showed our client these discussions, he thanked us for stopping him from wasting his company’s money.

Years ago when I was a journalist I fought with publishers who constantly pushed the editorial staff to cover advertisers. The battle between advertising and editorial has only intensified over the years as both ad revenue and readership have declined, bringing tough financial times for many media companies.  However, good, balanced journalism is what attracts readers and builds circulation, not pandering to advertisers or demanding quid pro quo for media coverage.

It’s the job of the PR professional to understand and counsel clients about what’s news and what’s not. If a company hires a PR agency to “get ink” and yet has nothing special to offer the media, it’s the agency’s responsibility to manage the client’s expectations while seeking news nuggets and finding innovative ways to create news, if necessary. Let’s be clear: pay for play is not media coverage, it’s advertising.

Lucy Siegel

Get my book at Amazon!  “Public Relations Around the Globe: A Window on International Business Culture”

Media Interviews: Be Scared, Just a Little

January 23, 2010

Our clients are usually either too intimidated by media interviews or are too confident.  Those who are scared are extremely nervous that they will say something foolish and embarrass themselves and their organizations, or that they will be asked a question they can’t answer.  The overconfident ones feel they know their business better than any reporter does, and figure there’s nothing they could be asked that they can’t answer – so they don’t prepare for the interview. Let me define “interview”: any and all discussions with a reporter or editor for a print or online publication, or a radio or TV producer or reporter, or a blogger qualify.

I think it’s better to be intimidated than over-confident.  A little stage fright is like electricity to a light bulb – it gives you energy.   Those who don’t worry at all can

“Don’t jump! I’ve sent the whole staff out to
buy every copy of the paper, so nobody
will read your interview – except in the
online edition, of course.”

get too comfortable. This is dangerous.  People who relax too much in an interview often say too much, giving the journalist more information than she needs. This gives the reporter the chance to select what to use in her story from both important and unimportant information. Or they say things that were best not said outside the company.

The solution to under- and over-confidence is (no surprise) preparation. List the questions you’re likely to be asked and have someone role-play with you so you can practice answering.

If you’re pretty new at being interviewed, or the upcoming interview is a really important one, or if you’re from another country and not used to talking to the American media, consider some professional media training. At a coaching session, a senior communications professional will work with you to plan a strategic approach to your interview, ask you likely questions and help you frame appropriate, succinct responses.  When I coach a client before an interview, I leave plenty of time to discuss the best way to handle the questions my client prays will not be asked.

The worst thing to do is hide from the media because you’re scared. The more you’re interviewed, the better you’ll do, and the less scared you’ll be.

Coming up soon: interview secrets exposed

–Lucy Siegel

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