Today, all media are “social.”
We say that because social media has become a major force in digital publishing’s competitive mosh pit. The online audience has overwhelmed the traditional media audience and transformed the business model for news.
To compete, major news organizations – like many of the companies they cover – rely on aggressive social media strategies. Much as a retail company uses social media to bolster its product sales, the news business looks to social media to engage, grow and retain the online audiences critical to attracting advertising revenue and, in some cases, subscription fees.
We witness firsthand the surging importance of social media during our visits to the digital newsrooms at major financial media. Editors no longer have to speculate on what readers
want; they see readers’ preferences “trending” in the real-time data flow of page views, “likes,” Tweets, shared articles and reader comments. And they monitor comparable real-time data on the competition.
In this environment, the performance of journalists and commentators is measured increasingly by the extent to which links and references to their articles ricochet around social media venues and boost “hits.” Reporters post on blogs and tweet several times a day in addition to filing articles. In the hunt for breaking news and story ideas, they tap into the Twitter feeds of the companies they cover and sources they trust. They look to social media to maximize the impact of their coverage and expand their audience following.
In some ways, the melding of traditional and social media offers clients increased opportunity to engage reporters and commentators. In other ways, it poses greater risks of being swept up in the occasional
viral wave of negativity in social media.
Some critics would say social media has contributed to fogging the difference between reporting and comment, making the media snarkier. Fans would say news organizations’ embrace of social media has resulted in more lively, relevant and diverse content. Both views are accurate, which only underscores the challenges companies face when they engage the media.
To help clients navigate this media environment, we work to align their communications programs with their business strategy, identifying opportunities and anticipating risks. The result is a program that:
- Defines their media positioning and messages.
- Builds relationships with influential media, reporters, commentators, producers and editors.
- Produces regular news releases, presentations and other content to drive clients’ media outreach.
- Prepares executives for engaging print and broadcast media to take advantage of positive news or blunt the impact on negative news.
- Cultivates support among influential individuals and opinion makers outside the company to build a positive environment for its news.
- Structures and organizes events to foster closer relationships with key media.
- Tracks and measures clients’ media profile and that of their peers and competitors.
- Amplifies the impact of positive messages through social media.