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Andy Oliver

Published on

July 17, 2012


communications, Marketing, public relations, social, Technology

I’m participating in a conference in Singapore and Hong Kong entitled “Media Relations in the Digital Age”.

It’s interesting that an entire conference would be devoted to this subject as you might ask yourself, media relations is media relations, whatever type of age you are in, let alone a digital age.

I discussed this issue with some of my colleagues and there were some strong views as to how digital PR professionals handle their media relations and pitching surrounded by digital tools and channels.

It’s clear that the core skills and approaches are untainted by the digital age. For example:

1. Relationships with media and bloggers. A fundamental part of our work remains unchanged, building relationships with those we want to pitch stories to. Fully understanding their beat, remit, interests and the types of stories and blog posts that they will write / produce.

Not just talking to them when you have something to sell in. That’s just use and abuse. But a genuine interest in who they are, what they are trying to do, and how you can help each other out and satisfy both your objectives.

One of my colleagues in Singapore tells me how she goes cycling at the weekends with a variety of journalists. What a great way to get to know them! It’s all arranged through Facebook, of course.

2. A good story. Great creative content is at the root of what we pitch in to media outlets. It doesn’t matter how clever you are at manipulating digital tools and channels, without the vital content that piques the interest of a journalist or blogger, which he or she thinks will make a compelling story or insight for his or her readers / community, you’ve got nothing to go on.
Constantly looking for great ways to bring a client’s story to life is what creative content professionals seek to do all the time, and always have done.

What has changed of course is the myriad of digital and social channels through which we can communicate, listen and learn. For digital communications professionals, it’s really like being a kid in a candy shop. When have we ever had so many tools and channels available at our disposal?!

I suppose it’s also a challenge – determining which platforms and tools to use, in what order of priority, or all at once! But it’s obvious that, especially in an era of the short attention span, images and video are extremely popular ways to convey messages, content and stories. One of my colleagues was telling me how she now only does video invites when arranging press events and conferences, a text invite email is far too boring and ordinary, or passé.

One thing that the digital age helps us remove our over-reliance on are the over-priced and seldom updated media databases (even online) that cost a fortune. In additional to bloggers, most journalists have a Twitter feed or other social network you can tap into, or at least listen to.

The amount you can learn is huge. You find out about personality, traits, likes and dislikes, when to approach and when not to, areas of interest and often stories that are being produced or researched at the time. Often a fascinating and useful insight into the lives of those we work with day in day out.

I discussed building relationships earlier, but of course connecting with our media and blogging community on Twitter, Facebook and other social outlets is a great way to develop a bond. And of course they won’t say no to you retweeting them when you find a post interesting enough to share.

It seems that the rise of digital is extremely positive for communications professionals. I’d be interested to hear if anyone disagrees or thinks there are some negative aspects of the rise of digital and social in our business.

Having mentioned it earlier, I think the topic of media relations in the short attention span era might be an even more interesting debate!

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