Especially since more people stayed home and worked from home in 2020, Pew Research Center noted the number of Americans viewing news online and on social media is growing.
Employment in digital newsrooms increased 82 percent in a 10-year period as general newsroom staffing is consolidating and print entities are doing more with fewer reporters. With all the unrest in the world, some news consumers are skeptical of anything they read, while others believe what they want to believe and look for sources to support their view, authentic or not.
As a result, public relations (PR) practitioners remain in the important role of providing true, hard facts. Just a few years ago, the term “fake news” would not have been considered for inclusion in The Associated Press Stylebook, but it is a full entry in the 2020-2022 edition.
Half of readers who access news via social media may unfollow sources they do not believe to be accurate. Being accurate should be a journalistic mandate and not a trend, but accuracy certainly is “trending” in the social media sense of popularity and necessity.
Here are other PR factors to consider:
Prove your point: Utilize verifiable facts from recognized subject matter experts to bolster your view. Even if the reader may not want to believe you, if you attribute your findings to a trusted source, the words “according to” will add to your credibility as a go-to source. As business leaders choose partners to join them, by reviewing proven metrics and content, they are “auditioning” their potential partners by reviewing available assets before making contact.
Look for a collaborator: If you are not familiar with a certain subject, who are the trusted advisers in that field? Their expertise, combined with connections, can provide valuable, positive exposure. Micro influencers recognized within a specific industry can offer more of an authentic endorsement than a celebrity for whom it is another paycheck.
Insist on accuracy: Some journalism school graduates remember flunking for the day if an error in fact or spelling occurred in a story, reinforcing the fact that if you’re wrong about one thing, why should the reader believe anything else you wrote? Even when readers know where to find retractions, not as many people view those as the original story. Be right the first time.
Be the real deal: Journalists receiving your copy and the general public want the human element to come across in a conversational tone. You can have a polished presentation without it sounding stiff and rehearsed.
Provide reciprocity to journalists: If you’ve enjoyed a story they’ve written, you can comment on it on social media. By offering assistance when they are looking for help with a certain story, you’re doing more than just contacting them when you want ink. Helping each other benefits both sides in the long run.
Get to the point: Reach your focus quickly without burying it far down in the copy. With the proliferation of messages received, readers become impatient.
Avoid assumptions: When your message is destined for a general audience, avoid jargon they may not be as familiar with as an industry insider would be. How many times have you heard someone say, “As you know…” when you actually don’t know and it is the speaker’s fault for not informing you?
Keep brevity in mind: Imagine receiving even more of a plethora of messages every day than you already do. You, too, would appreciate brevity, avoidance of repetition and overused cliches, and using the most appropriate verbiage. As author Mark Twain said, the difference between the almost-right word and the right word could be compared to the difference between the lightning bug and lightning. Be precise and continue to edit.
Use tools: Include keywords and search engine optimization (SEO) language in order for your results to appear more highly in search rankings and make your work more widely seen. Social listening allows you to tune into what others are talking about and add your voice to the conversation.
Podcasts are popular: They can be short and casual, without glossy overproduction. This format is apt to be readily accepted by viewers and participants alike.
Go where the audience is: Whether or not you personally are fond of a certain platform or service to get the word out, be everywhere your audience is.
In fact, Forbes reported that writers are relying more on SEO searches than live interviews. New digital platforms are being added all the time. It may be harder to reach writers, but having a personalized pitch will help you connect.
Entrepreneur notes that PR efforts will need to be more engaging to direct online traffic to an organization’s platforms. Practitioners must demonstrate their expertise with case studies that prove to potential clients that they “get” the intricacies of their field, face challenges and provide impactful, measurable results.
Public Relations Today suggests 2021 will bring a greater transition to fully digital campaigns to reach remote audiences, and live-streaming of events to involve remote and in-person participants. Diversity, inclusion and equity will need to be evident in actions as well as statements. Communications to employees will focus on wellness initiatives, team involvement and creative initiatives since more employees are working remotely. Stakeholders prefer personalization, as though they are the only one being addressed. This will result in the need for closer collaboration between in-house departments in developing and delivering messaging to ensure your company values shine through.
If you’re enthused by the possibilities ahead, but not sure where or how to start, the award-winning, brand-strategy firm Baker Creative can lead the way to authentically engage your stakeholders and produce a greater return on investment for your organization. By researching the underlying trends and consumer sentiments and compiling detailed analytics, we craft messaging to effectively reach your target audience!