Newsroom staffs have continued to dwindle over the last few years while the demand for breaking news and 'round the clock coverage has skyrocketed. This has put tremendous stress on the remaining reporters and their editors, who have to weed through hundreds and possibly thousands of pitches and news announcements on a daily basis. They have to determine what is critical to cover immediately, what stories are interested but can wait, and those they just don't have the time or interest in. Reporters now typically have to submit a few and sometimes dozens of stories daily. They aren't able to truly deep-dive into many stories or passion projects.
To help relieve this pressure from their staffs, editors started opening up contributor networks, giving outside, non-staff experts the opportunity to share their perspective on timely topics, while helping add more content to their sites.
This was well-received for quite some time, what seemed to be a win-win for media and brands alike. Media got the supply of content needed to fill the demand requested by readers, while thought leaders, executives and brands were able to share their specific perspectives on the news of the day.
But recently there has been some backlash. Media outlets like TechCrunch have rescinded their contributed network offers, citing the amount of articles they receive that they "strongly suspected where ghost-written by PR or really had no business being given the platform."
While I'm not a fan of blaming the entire quality issue on PR, I understand the delicate balance outlets are trying to achieve. As a result, these outlets and probably many more will overcorrect and severely limit or completely eliminate their contributed content programs. In turn, businesses and their leaders will need to find different and some possibly new avenues to consider as part of their PR and thought leadership programs.
No need for much concern though. There are more platforms than ever before for people to publish and share their viewpoints beyond traditional media outlets and blogs -- LinkedIn, Medium, to name a few.
Some may few these platforms as the "easy way" to get content published and out into the public sphere, believing that this isn't "real coverage". True. Media coverage in traditional outlets will now mostly pertain to news.
But if you are wanting to focus on thought leadership, publishing on these alternative platforms and having a well executed socialization plan in place can make your readership and impact as strong as a what you may have hoped to achieved with a previous guest post on a traditional blog.
This is a big, loaded question that gets asked quite regularly.
Because it is important.
We've approached this question from a variety of angles here on the ROAMings blog and our founder will be discussing it in further detail during the "PR Secrets Revealed" online summit, starting today.
So now we are going to take the question on directly: Are you ready for PR?
The answer is going to vary from business to business and is going to be dependent on a multitude of factors. But in order to truly understand if your business -- and more importantly you and your leadership -- are ready for PR, you need to be able to answer some questions openly and honestly and make sure you are all on the same page with the answers.
The benefit to this exercise, whether or not you proceed with a PR program, is that it gets the team thinking like one unit and asking questions that you are probably either too busy or afraid to ask one another. But once they are out in the open, the picture starts getting much clearer on what is needed to be successful overall, not just with a PR program.
Understanding your goals and objectives is the next step. What are you trying to accomplish with a PR program? What existing initiatives do you have in place that PR can help enhance? (remember: PR shouldn't be the only tool in your toolbox to meet business objectives.)
Scope and budget are also a factor. Whether you choose to hire in-house, an agency or a contractor, you will need to understand what the job will entail and how much money you are willing and able to spend. Look at your product roadmap to see what news you will have coming and whether it warrants a full-time PR program or one-off projects. For budget, understand that PR programs are an investment, but they shouldn't dominate your overall operating expenses.
So are you ready for PR?
That is for you and your team to ultimately decide.
The answer can be no and there is nothing wrong with that. Just make sure you are absolutely ready when you jump off the line and start sprinting. It will be quite the journey.
Over the last few months, there have been many incriminating stories about Uber, and over the last 48 hours, United has been dealing with its own crisis. But the most recent stories about how these two companies are facing "PR disasters" are inaccurate and honestly quite insulting to the comms teams that do battle on the front lines for these companies on a daily basis.
Kara Swisher at Recode recently took to PR's defense when it came to Uber, Yahoo and others:
"Now, tech has not gotten quite that bad. But it does need to stop blaming PR for bad management and perhaps focus on the actual thing instead of how the thing looks."
This is relevant to United and a variety of other companies that have been facing public backlash recently as well. In fact, we covered it here many moons ago: PR shouldn't be your fall guy.
PR can be a tremendous resource and supporter in both prosperous and disastrous times for a company. But there is also only so much PR can do once actions have been taken from the business. Just like you pay your legal team for their guidance on specific situations, you pay your communications team for their expertise too. If you aren't going to listen and use it, why are they even there?
Don't make it worse by not only ignoring their guidance, but then throwing them under the bus for the mistakes made by the business. That's the immature and easy way out.
Accept the fault, learn from the situation and move on. You'll be a better and stronger company -- and leader -- for it in the future.
Now that we are more than 3 full months into the new year, we have a bit of an idea of where things might be heading (or do we?) for the remainder of the year. So we've ask some of our ROAM Communications network partners and fellow PR professionals:
"What Are Going To Be The Biggest Trends Or News Cycles In 2017?"
Here's what they had to say:
"Heavy issues related to climate change, war, immigration, human rights and security are going to dominate headlines. Beyond the obvious politics, I think people are going to want to read about and write about human interest stories. And there will be some escapism into the arts, film, literature, history. If those of us in tech are lucky and diligent, there will be news cycles around technological and scientific breakthroughs in areas like health, transportation, agriculture and sustainable global development. If I get my wish, then 2017 will be the year that "blue tech" comes to the fore: the smarter collection of, distribution of and even power-generation from water. I think of water as the new oil."
"The biggest trend in 2017 is uncertainty mixed with distrust. The channels we use to communicate are considered suspect and people now see "alternative facts' in every communication. No trust? No conversation."
"Biggest PR trend will be the rise of Independents becoming a power workforce within PR and marketing-at-large. PR, and news in general, is quickly snowballing to a type of crisis -- authenticity of communication and media are being called into question. As much as big tech giants preach about diversity, our media platforms will continue to be confirmation bias cocoons. There will be a lot of very bad attempts at reaching across the aisle when what we really need to do is go back to basics -- in person and common discourse."
Welcome to ROAMings, a compilation of thoughts and musings about the PR and media industries. This is an opportunity to discuss the “here and now” of the industry, interesting events or case studies, pivotal moments that affect how we approach PR, etc. It isn’t about brand loyalties or preferences -- and we will not be publishing self-promotional materials or talk about our clients in this setting -- but how those brands, individuals and events are leveraging (or in some cases abandoning) PR.