Seven take aways from Gregory FCA’s national media panel

April 19, 2010
Panelist Sree Sreenivasen kicking off the discussion

Panelist Sree Sreenivasen kicking off the discussion

This weekend I had the opportunity to take some time and process the findings from our recent national media panel round table that Gregory FCA brought to Philadelphia to help gain national perspective on The Art of News and Storytelling in the Age of Social and Digital Media.

The biggest conclusion is that much of what we heard from a panel that included reporters, writers, editors, and managers from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Associated Press, USA Today, Forbes, and others is that the media is struggling with many of the same issues facing corporate America.

And in some ways, they are leading the pack in how to leverage these new communications avenues to gain attention, tell stronger stories, and build bonds and brands that resonate with audiences. Here’s the DL from top media across the country.

1. Content is still king. Great storytelling, clearly articulated messages, insightful information that applies to macro or micro audiences. These are still the hallmark of effective communications. Social media can’t prop up a bad story, but it can amplify a good one, delivering new audiences in the marketplace.

2. Set aside skepticism and fear. One conclusion that became evident is that the best media organizations in the world have set aside past skepticism and are now true believers. The culture of a newsroom is as difficult to change as a corporation. But the media has challenged their people to embrace the opportunity, thoughtfully engage with their customers, and use new channels to see more value from the information they create.

3. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube. This is where the audience now lives, and it’s where media now inhabits. The New York Times has 2.5 million followers on Twitter. Facebook now has 400 million users. The real Web is out there — and it’s being dominated by these social media tools.

4. Digital communications has changed the way we consume news and how stories are told. Twitter’s 140 characters has opened new pathways of communications that corporations must embrace. Streaming news  — whether to promote a product, calm a crisis, or explain an issue — is now the preferred method of communication for many consumers. Yet the long form — brochureware websites, annual reports, lengthy press releases — still dominate corporate communications.

5. The media is better at SEO than most companies. Editors and reporters are measuring and monitoring what gets results in the things they publish. Whatever gets results wins further coverage. Businesses? Not so much. Too often, corporations are stuck in the “let-me-tell-you” mode of thinking, instead of “let me listen first, and then tell you what you want to know.”

6. Embrace the rambling hoards. A marvel of new media is that ideas, thoughts, products, and services can be tested, improved, and enhanced through active engagement with online audiences. The media is already doing it 24/7 through an organic interchange between themselves, their readers, viewers, and sources. What are the ramifications for business? Crowdsourcing can deliver similar innovation, but you need to be part of the crowd, digitally embedded, available, listening, and responding.

7. Take control of your narrative. Never in the history of human communications have companies had the ability take control of their own story and tell it directly to the consumers without filters or huge investments. The media is now using their primary asset, the intellectual capacity of their writers and reporters, to connect directly and extend their brands’ narratives. Are you?

Our podcast of the event will be available on Gregarious this week. Check back to hear it in its entirety.

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