Looking for the E

Posted on January 21, 2010. Filed under: Public Relations, Social Media | Tags: , , , , |

You will probably agree when I say that PR is first and foremost about persons and relationship. If we take for example the typical MADE workflow process of a PR professional (Monitor – Analyse – Discover – Engage), the most compelling and interesting part is definitely the E (Engage).

I’m very grateful that our teams at Dow Jones are offering many opportunities to meet media professionals, both from the “traditional” as well as from the social media space. During the recent launch of the Dow Jones Media Relations Manager, several roundtables and webinars have been organised. Influential bloggers and journalists participated and mingled with collegues and clients and discussed the impact of the Social Media revolution. I joined a webinar hosted by our team in Asia. Among the participants were Peter Stein from the Wall Street Journal in Hong Kong and David Meerman Scott, named as one of the “Top Social Media Strategists to follow in 2010” by the Boston-based 451 Marketing.

My main take-aways from the event:

  • “Know your reporter and how to reach him” (Peter Stein) – PR people who want to engage with journalists should know exactly where they are sending their information to. Who are the reporters in charge? What are those reporters covering? What’s the best way to get in touch with them? Who are the backups?
  • Content is King – David Meerman Scott argues that 95% of the pitches he receives are spam. Like journalists, influential bloggers are also looking continuously for interesting stories and news. And if these are exclusives, even better. They will be picked up and go viral. Creating really good and valuable content has to be a key competency of the PR department.
  • All channels are possible – Traditional media are embracing social media. The Wall Street Journal is searching the web and Twitter for story ideas. Editors and journalists are also spreading news on Twitter. PR departments can’t ignore this.

I especially like the content argument. Traditional media releases are generally considered as dull and often of less value for journalists and bloggers. If the audience is considering them as spam, something is wrong and has to be changed. New forms of engagement will have to arise.

Georg Ackermann is the Barcelona Team Leader in the Dow Jones Media Lab.


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2 Responses to “Looking for the E”

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We just conducted some usability testing last night of our Dow Jones Media Relations Manager product. One of the comments made in this area of “know your reporter” is that someone doing PR for several years for a company will know all the reporters personally. While I took the point, I think that comment is less true today than a generation ago for two reasons: With the turmoil in the mainstream media, there are lots of reporters covering many more beats; and blogging means new influencers can be popping up anywhere. Another comment: “the ‘beat’ is dead” — because of newspaper cutbacks, journos can’t specialize any more.

I agree with Glenn. Media relations are now affected by various factors and not many PR people really “know their reporters”. However, it’s because of the changing landscape that we need to be even closer to them. Social media is fine for pitching stories etc but you can also get very bad press from it, depending on who says what when and how, and if you don’t have that grassroots type relationship with the reporter on your beat, well..it can be a disaster!

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