Shawn Warmstein|Feb 23, 2015

While amazing athletic feats and extremely passionate fans define the sports world to most, this industry has also provided PR pros a variety of lessons and case studies on topics such as crisis communications, reputation management and transparency.

The latest example pulled from the sports back page involves NBA All-Star Kevin Durant. In a recent interview, Durant ripped into media asserting that, in addition to not knowing anything about basketball (though using more colorful language), media essentially were going to write what they wanted, despite what he would or would not say.

Durant is the latest public figure to address this question of narrative and how a story is reported. As PR professionals, one of our many jobs is to work with media to help shape the narrative of editorial coverage. But as the media landscape and personal consumption of news rapidly shifts, so too does the role PR pros have in this process.

Rather than putting your news out blindly and seeing how it comes back, below are five tips to help determine the best route for shaping a story.

  1. Consider your audience. Does your audience only believe it if they see it in print? Do they have the constant need to consume their new yesterday, and pull from news sources across the web? Do they put more weight on reporting from certain outlets vs. others? Knowing how your audience consumes and responds to news will determine who to target in the media.
  2. Know your end goal. Are you looking for widespread coverage of your news? Is maintaining tight control of the message most important? These questions will help determine whether media or your client are the best source to disseminate the news.
  3. What’s your communication channel? Certain stories are made for print, some for TV and others for 140 characters. The medium you opt for will also determine who the storyteller should be.
  4. How long do you want your story to live? Today’s news cycle is short and requires a constant stream of new stories. In cases where a narrative needs to be maintained, leveraging a brand’s or individual’s communications channels can be advantageous, as breaking scandals or a play for more clicks will have less impact on the story you are telling.
  5. Who has the most powerful voice? Although our job as communicators is to earn editorial coverage, sometimes we must ask, “Who does the target audience want to hear from: media or our client?” Given the increased following brands and individuals receive via direct communication channels, sometimes it’s best to skip the press conference. However, if it’s a case where speaking directly to the end user would be met with skepticism or viewed as braggadocios, then third-party reporting is the ticket.

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