Anyone with tenure in the public relations business knows that there are a few media outlets that can move mountains, influence millions, and put a smile on the face of even the most hard-to-please clients.
Unfortunately, only a very small percentage of clients ever see their story displayed in publications like the Wall Street Journal or featured on ABC World News Tonight. In fact, countless hours (and dollars) are put against trying to get reporters from these top-tier media outlets to call us back regardless of whether or not you have real news or “existing relationships.”
Most PR pros don’t take it personally. However, many clients, especially those working for privately-owned companies, can sometimes feel like it’s a personal attack on their value or importance – but I can assure you it’s not.
What we really need to ask ourselves is why? Why does it matter? How influential are these media to your client’s specific needs? Is achieving a top-tier media placement really about influencing decision-making or is it about satisfying a different need.
As much as we want to believe that these outlets are the shining jewel in the communications crown, they are becoming less relevant and influential as the age of self-generated acquisition of information begins to overshadow once mighty media giants. Don’t get me wrong, the NYT or WSJ are still relevant, major influencers among their loyal readers but business must begin to redefine media success.
Companies need to focus their efforts on finding the best platforms and vehicles to reach the audiences that matter most to their brand. Sometimes its WSJ and sometimes it's a YouTube sensation.
In 2015, it’s about the quality of content, authenticity, credibility, and most of all how well tailored it is for the audience consuming the information.
Remember the days when Dateline, Primetime Live and 20/20 were real news programs? There was a time when you could actually wake-up to learn about events from around the world by watching Today or Good Morning America (GMA)? The fact is news programming has changed and the real “jewels” may not be where most of us think to look.
Bloggers, Youtube trendsetters, citizen journalists all have a stake in shaping our perception of brands, issues and reputation. However perhaps the most influential news source has become us. More than ever, we search out the information we want to find. We compare and contrast information, search for alternative views and make decisions about who we trust and why. This shift in the way we acquire information opens the door to great opportunity for generating content intended for direct access to the audiences you wish to engage. Bypass the old guard, the gate- keepers of the top-tier media, and make inroads with the audiences that are actively searching for things that interest them.
There will likely always be a place for formal journalism, but industry needs to shift its definition of PR success to recognize that success is about engagement and it’s tough to engage people when there’s an editor at the door making decisions about what he or she thinks your audience should read or see. Think I’m wrong? Look at the next lead story on GMA or a headline in the NYT (hard news aside). Think about how relevant it is to you, your audience or whether or not it changed the way you think about something.