How to tell your story when the media isn’t enough

When I get into the media relations part of communications one of the things that I keep asking myself is when I have news is ‘how can I reach more journalists and get them to “buy” the importance of my, or my client’s, news?’

Being in a niche industry, I usually get interest from all of the same players. But when I go outside of that realm, I can see those journalists’ eyes glazing over right on the phone and wondering why I am wasting their time. The thing is that topics, like utility rate increases, that affect people are important to a newspaper’s readers and it’s likely that those readers want/need to know about it.

I find that journalists at medium to small circulations are in such a bind from a financial and staff limitations perspective that they cannot devote the individual time to even consider a type of story that is so clearly out of their everyday news cycle. They are more and more relying on regional Associated Press outlets to feed them the news through the wire. And this might be the Catch-22 that limits communicators’ ability to reach their intended audiences. The more medium and small news outlets look to the AP the further spread the AP gets to adequately cover your story.

Traditional journalism is dying. There I said it. I’m a formally trained journalist so that was hard. But we all need to come to the realization that newspaper and television reporters do not have the time or resources they once had to cover our news and reach people in the places where their eyes used to be gathered.

The good thing is the people’s eyes are still gathering. Blogs, Facebook, Twitter and other social media are their gathering places. At the end of the first quarter of 2011, nearly half of all Americans are Facebook users. A Pew Internet research study examined the use of social networking sites and the impact it has users lives. The study found that users of social networking sites are trusting, have closer relationships, feel supported by others and are more likely to be politically engaged.

Using social networking sites and other social mediums just might be the answer PR pros are looking for to communicate important news. With a well devised strategy, backed by killer content, PR pros can engage their audiences in honest conversations and can put more information in their hands than traditional media’s space constraints allow.

There will always be a place for newspapers. But public relations have a larger and more engaging space to talk with people where more than just a snippet of information can be consumed.


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