Legacy media such as newspapers, radio and television neared their end in 1999 because of their limited column inches and only 24 hours available in a day.
The internet would soon replace them because it offered unlimited space and time and therefore eliminated such antiquated 20th Century constraints, or so conventional wisdom taught us.
Nearly 20 years later, core messages become worthless if they don’t fit into 140 (now 280) characters. Rarely does anyone have the time for a 3,000-word article or an hour-long broadcast when the American attention has dwindled from 12 seconds in 2000 to only eight seconds today.
So is the world finally ready to toss the final traditional media holdouts into history’s recycling center? Not quite, public relations professionals say.
Social Reinforces Traditional
Traditional storytelling will always exist. It has simply transitioned onto the web where consumers share it with one another.
The more reputable and credible the news source, the more readers will trust it and return for more. The less reputable and credible sources – or #FakeNews – will last only so long as it takes someone to expose them.
Top social offerings such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn amplify the most meaningful content.
“We constantly analyze our social media efforts to determine which posts generate the most bang for the buck,” says Scott Baradell, CEO of Idea Grove in Dallas. “Do you know which posts are always the most effective? Those posts that link to client coverage in reputable news outlets. There’s no substitute for that, and I don’t think that there ever will be.”
‘Earned’ vs. ‘Shared’
Earned media falls into the category of age-old outreach, such as investing the time into developing relationships with producers and reporters through learning their interests.
Shared media – social – turns earned media into an electronic icebreaker. It provides brands with conversation starters to engage consumers in their targeted markets.
“PR gives you something interesting to talk about in your social channels,” says Stephen Gibson, founder of Vyteo.com. “Got featured in The New York Times? Now you have an update to share that people will get excited about.”
Social is the New Normal
Katie Kern with Media Frenzy Global, LLC offers an alternative view.
“In many ways, social media has a greater impact on traditional PR methods when reaching the masses for self-promotion,” Kern says. “Consumers crave personalized interactive experiences that social media provides and traditional PR practices may fall short.”
Case in point, she says, live streaming.
“We live in an always-on world where people anticipate events, stories and experiences to unfold in real-time. FaceBook Live and Instagram stories allow PR pros to create immersive and highly engaging content that viewers can be a part of. In return, PR professionals are building a loyal and hyper-targeted following that relies on their insight.”
Teana McDonald with 3E Connections in Coral Springs, Fla. said that the advent of social opened an entirely new world for her to creatively interact with the press.
“When I started in the business it was all about ‘how’ you pitch the media,” McDonald says. “Certain editors like a full release, others like a teaser and some just like bullets answering the who, what, when, where & why. When social media hit the scene it became a playing field that I could get used to. In addition to the traditional press release I can now follow and interact directly with individuals in the media (game changer!).”
She adds that when establishment media lack interest in a pitch to bypass them and head straight to the bloggers and influencers with significant followings to spread the word.
PR + Social = Powerful Messaging
Public relations coupled with an equally aggressive social plan generates a formidable force.
“In the absence of traditional storytelling, clients are left to curate content or create content solely for social media, which is a big investment with only half the return and only a portion of the audience reached,” Amy La Sala with Off Madison Ave says. “People still read newspapers or digital news content, they listen to terrestrial and satellite radio during drive times and yes, some still watch TV. All of which is garnered through media outreach.”
She said that she often educates clients on how to foster coverage and engage journalists through social to produced desired results.
“PR and social media – when aligned and working in concert – can be the most efficient, targeted and impactful effort of a client’s overarching marketing communications strategy,” La Sala concludes.
Dave Yonkman is president of the health care public relations firm DYS Media and is the former Washington correspondent for Newsmax Media.