I have been struggling with a connundrum – is there a need to separate social media and traditional media relations – and is it even honest to do so?
What is media relations really?
A vast proportion (but certainly not all) of the ‘work’ is generally a mass email/press release from a central team resource (media relations department) to a wide list of people who may or may not be interested in covering it. This would be followed up by a pitch to select ‘Tier 1’ journalists.
Although media relations professionals will argue the list is ‘targeted’ and that they may follow the Media Spamming Charter the reality is that there will be a large number of people on the list who are really there just to make up numbers and make it look like you have ‘klout’.
Wait a second – this sounds like a… well… a tweet right?
If you are going to distribute my press release in the manner described above… why not also tweet it at the same time? What are you (Mr/Ms Agency) waiting for? And and if scheduling software is out there… why aren’t you using it to get my message out multiple times and also, at the right times!
Further, if the aim is to have it on the Internet sites, why not have it on your corporate blog… why not create a LinkedIn group for media… why not have a Facebook page for our announcements…
There are a lot of reasons (which I prefer to call myths) that would prevent the above from being proposed.
1. It will take more time from the team – well yes it will, journalists will have greater access to you, and ‘NEW media relations professionals’ will be under greater pressure to address these queries… but, isn’t that the value they were supposed to provide in any case?
2. There may be fears that journalists will feed off each other especially if there is a negative story – but isn’t that what moderation is for; and if there is a really strong story will a journalist really want to share it by putting a post on a public forum? If there is a storm brewing, pretending it’s not going to hit social media is erm.. well… medieval thinking right?
3. It will cost… actually it won’t. Most of the best services are free, or require a really small charge to manage. Also, once the agency buys once, it can resell to many different clients
4. It will divert time… no again it won’t. The aim is to drive awareness through many different channels and this will increase the efficacy of communications
5. It isn’t as flexible… actually again false – a Tweet can help manage a crisis or get a story out as fast as an email, in fact its much better as it is actually geared up for propagation of messages through retweets – agencies can also be measured on the performance per announcement more than simply press clippings analysis.
6. The public will also join in… well, yes they do anyway through reading newspapers. In the past this was through letters columns and op-ed. Now everyone can contribute.
There’s no difference between new media strategy and traditional media strategy at the high level. It’s the same input, output, outcomes and impact or messages, audiences, tools etc etc.
And there’s no difference in the workload, its all electronic and email. And there’s no difference in the call round process or pitching to traditional media – this is still going to happen.
In fact, it should be more efficient for agencies to provide these services as their work will be more effective.
I am beginning to fear that media relations as a profession is as defunct as a Nokia repairman – yes there are still a lot of people buying this service, and there is a legacy of demand. But everyone ‘in the know’ has already moved on and is now on Android or iOS.
Long live New Media Relations, at least until the next comms innovation comes along – augmented reality anyone!
Engaging-Journalists-Through-Social-Media – Text 100
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