The Internet is the revolution of the 21st Century. It has changed the way we communicate and the way businesses, governments and society functions. Public Relations has not been spared. Back in the days, all a PR practitioner had to do to get the name of his or her organization in the news was to write and distribute press releases, pitch and write articles for newspapers and other publications, arrange for media interviews, organize facility visits and conduct media conferences. The story is not the same now. While the old ways remain valid, so much is changing and at a very fast pace. You don’t need a crystal ball to see the massive changes the Internet has wrought on media relations; but four areas have received the most shock:
- Media Landscape.
Mainstream media – TV, radio, newspapers / magazines – have had their gate-keeping power cut short by online media platforms and social networking sites. Message control has become very difficult since everyone can publish for a global audience, courtesy of the Internet. Getting across to our organizations/client’s stakeholders require a redefinition of media list to include bloggers, social media influencers, discussion forums and owned channels such as websites, blogs and apps that generate content.
The era of pushed contents such as press releases, feature articles or documentary films to journalists is fading very fast. Inbound media relations, where you pull the media to your organization is the order of the day. Now you use the same content, quality content on the Internet to attract journalists to your organization- contents that educate them about your organization and its products/services; contents that answer common industry, product and service questions; and contents that give their audience information about how to solve specific problems relating to your industry, products or services. Best practice is to create an online newsroom in your organization’s website that allows media practitioners to easily find the information they need. PR Newswire suggests what you should do to have a good online Newsroom:
- Ensure the page can be found directly from major search engines.
- Ensure the link is featured prominently on your home page
- Enable media to subscribe to categorized RSS feed and email updates so that they can receive contents as they become available.
- Make contents easy to share and bookmark.
- Add social media tags to take advantage of having your audience spread your content for you.
- Embed video and photos that supplement your content.
- Include items such as press release archive, high resolution photos, executive bios and opt in mail.
- For easy crisis management, have a system that allows you to update your online newsroom from any place in the world.
iii. Tools of Engagement Press releases, pitch letters, feature articles and other traditional media relation tools are loosing their power to reach the ever-fragmented audience of organizations. Today, blogs and other social media platforms, eBooks, whitepapers and videos are gaining traction. Others are SEO, landing pages and client-centric emails. Any PR professional who cannot comfortably use these tools is automatically bound to suffer professional stagnation. The price of professional relevance and growth in the PR industry today is continuous monitoring, mastering, and application of new communication technologies to engage your clients’ / organization’s stakeholders/publics.
- Relationship Building Method
Establishing and building relationships with journalists and influencers upfront remains the rule of the Media Relations game. What is different now is that you can initiate and maintain relationships with them without having to meet face to face. By simply visiting their websites, reading and commenting on their blog posts and publishing quality contents in your owned media channels, you are well on your way to a superb relationship with them. In Things Fall Apart, the ground-breaking novel by Chinua Achebe, the hunter said that since Aneke, the bird, has learnt to fly without perching they’ve also learnt to shoot without missing. In this era of inbound media relations, PR professionals can only shoot on target when they understand inbound methodology and how it is applied in Media Relations Management.
- Nsikak Daniels the CEO of White Water Limited, a Public Relations and Event Management firm. He is also the Convener of 1000 Leaders Meeting