The media and media relations in 2013

December 27, 2012

This post was written by Mike Lizun, Senior Vice President

THE NEW NEWS: Companies will need
to continue to adapt in 2013

Just like in 2012, and the previous 15 years I’ve spent in and around the media and practicing media relations, 2013 will once again bring rapid and daily change. I’ve seen the most dramatic shifts and changes in media in the last five years, along with changes in the methods and tools to adapt.

For those of us that practice media relations, what new trends will emerge in the media and what tactics will you need to employ to adapt this time?

First, it is easier than ever to follow and properly communicate with journalists. For example, you can follow @muckrack and get real-time and daily digests of journalists’ tweets about the topics, industries, and subjects of interest to you and your clients.

Following the conversations, and quickly identifying the topics they are discussing, and possibly looking for sources for these topics, is crucial for PR pros. Never mind the lists. Instead, use a tool like this to focus on the conversation and what the journalists are discussing, and you will be better prepared to help them and offer up the right source at the right time.

Now here is something that might seem obvious, but it is often overlooked. Unless your company is in the headlines daily and is a market leader, you need to tie your news (and today, your data) to the companies and topics that are getting the page views and driving traffic to stories. If you are a smaller, less-known company, this is more important now than ever.

The competition for readers is getting fierce, and if your story, data, angle, or analysis can somehow be tied to the major businesses being discussed and covered daily, you will greatly increase your chances of making the news. Remember, it’s not the job of a reporter to cover your company or your angle. Their job is to cover the news.

PR pros need to get comfortable with — and get their clients comfortable with — live video interviews via Skype and Google Hangouts. More media than ever are creating quick video interviews. They need media-ready sources that can connect via Skype and provide a comment at a moment’s notice.

According to Sam Whitmore, Founder and Editor of Sam Whitmore’s Media Survey, a trend he sees and one that needs to be addressed with companies in 2013 is “Skype media training, because we’re seeing more and more of many-to-many IP TV experiences.”

Sam shared this example with me of a Spreecast video from the WSJ.com, a video chat with a start-up mentor talking about business models vs. business plans. Video is a great tool, but requires solid camera skills and the ability to connect with your audience. So, get on Skype, get comfortable, and offer this option to the media.

Another example is Google Hangouts. This alone is worth being on Google+ and gaining a better understanding of this social network and the impact it is already having and will continue to have in 2013 and beyond.

What is the attraction? It’s live, it’s video, it’s many-to-many, and it also gives reporters the ability to connect directly with their audience and drive audience participation. In fact, up to 10 people can hangout at a time. This can create quite the round table conversation, offer up varying opinions, and since you can broadcast live via YouTube, open up the story to potentially thousands or millions more to watch and interact via the social plugins.

Let’s take a look at some other ways stories were told in 2012, and will continue to evolve in 2013.

Creating mobile videos. What is the best camera? Well, it’s the one you have with you, and today, it’s your phone. Millions of us are carrying video cameras every day, but we don’t often think how they can help us do our job, or help create content for clients in real time — at conferences, after a meeting, during or after lunch.

The GIF. Wow, how many animated GIFs did you see this year? They were once a geeky, little way to have some fun. Now legitimate and mainstream news sources are sharing and creating these GIFs to tell a story. Look for more of these in 2013.

News will continue to break on Twitter first. News is breaking all the time, and it can be created or spread by anyone with a Twitter account. It can move fast, and the media will continue to find and identify sources of information around this breaking news via Twitter, the actual witnesses of the event. Not all tweets and the sources of the tweets can be trusted, so media will always be looking for people/sources to confirm what’s been tweeted.

Google+. In 2013, the use of Google+ will rise in the news business. Why? Search and visibility.

Reddit and AMAs. Reddit is a social news and entertainment website where the registered users submit content in the form of either a link or a text “self” post. Other users then vote the submission up or down, which is used to rank the post and determine its position on the site’s pages and front page. The description of Reddit by Reddit is: the front page of the Internet. This might not be too far off. Not only is news created and tons of information shared here, but sources are found. Even President Obama and his communications team thought enough of Reddit and its influence to let the audience ask him anything, and he answered. This Forbes article describes it as: “It’s like the Barbara Walters’ tell-all for a new generation, where the questions are actually probing and the celebrity actually matters to the fans.” Sure, if you already are a name and recognized, you will get questions. But there are certainly opportunities here for anyone, because every topic and subject imaginable has a section on Reddit. Be mindful, this is not a place to spam and market. Bring value to the community, or stay out.

Mobile first. Check out this story from the Nieman Journalism Lab, and particularly, this quote from Fiona Spruill: “The numbers speak for themselves. In the next 12-18 months, many news organizations will cross the 50 percent threshold where more users are visiting on phones and tablets than on desktop computers and laptops.” She also points out that the audience on smartphones is much younger and more international. How will news organizations adjust to this? How will your storytelling and the assets you create for storytelling evolve in 2013 to help reporters reach this mobile audience?

What about the big players? The New York Times, CNN, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and others? Without a doubt in my mind, influential media, both individuals and the organizations, most of the household news names we know, will continue to drive innovation, and lead the news coverage of companies, new products, and conversations.

In many cases, the conversation will start with them. In other cases, it will continue to bubble up from blogs and tweets. We might be reading their stories more and more on a smartphone or tablet, or as a tweet first, but it will be the same big news names innovating and trying new ways to drive us to the full story.

By now, you are probably asking yourself, well, what about the big (traditional) news names? They will continue to bring us the major information that we can’t or won’t find for or by ourselves. If the news is finding you today, it’s probably because you are following The New York Times in your Facebook feed, or @BreakingNews in your Twitter stream.

We trust the major media to review products; dig deep into a topic; uncover stories; tell us something we didn’t know, need to know, should know, can’t possibly understand without multiple sides being presented. The news we read and share is the information that drives us to create new products, forces us to be different or better, and challenges us to strive for market share or capture new users. It makes us think and moves us to act.

Today, most of the conversations about and around the news happen online, on social sites, and in blog comments. Many reporters are relying on some of these sites to find stories and identify sources. The major names in news will remain. They just might look a whole lot different by the end of 2013.

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