Stacy Merrick|Jul 23, 2014

Americans’ faith in the major news media platforms is at record lows, according to a Gallup Poll published in June 2014. The actual behaviors of the average consumer, though, should make PR pros take notice, given that media relations is a significant portion of what we do.

Gallup’s Poll shows that people trust newspapers the most, followed by the Internet, with television news bringing up the rear. However, the American Press Institute notes that this order is reversed in terms of how Americans actually consume the news. Television, which reportedly has the lowest public confidence, is the most frequently used medium for getting the news, with laptops/computers ranking second and newspapers coming in last.

While trust in the Internet as a source is slightly lower than when Gallup first measured public confidence in 1999, this year marks the first time that another news medium (television, in this case) has fallen below the Internet in public trust.

Meanwhile, in terms of news consumption, the Internet has made steady gains over the past decade. Pew Research notes that the more Americans these days get news in a digital format.

Working with media is a key part of our job, so how do the public’s changing news consumption habits and wavering confidence impact how we approach media relations?

These days, it’s all about mixing the old with the new – adapting tried and true best practices to fit new technology platforms and satiate consumers’ appetite to receive the news anywhere, any time, on any device.

That’s why it’s more important than ever for PR professionals and the brands they represent to embrace a truly integrated communications approach to media relations. Below are a few key points to keep in mind to maximize your efforts:

  1. Be Social: Knowing that 73% of online adults use social networking sites, taking the time to develop your organization’s online presence – particularly on social media – is vital to increasing credibility. Actively engaging media, consumers and industry influencers is the first step in creating brand champions, which is important to millennials in particular. In fact, Crowdtap, a social influence marketing platform, found that millennials trust information gathered through user-generated content 40 percent more than information from other media, including newspapers and magazines.
  2. Consider ‘Shareability’: When you have information to share, do your research and know what resonates with your target audience. Media outlets are constantly looking for engaging content, so formatting your information in a way that fits your audiences’ preferences will increase the likelihood of it being well-received (and, subsequently, talked about and shared online). A study from the New York Times Insights Group found 94 percent of people assess the usefulness of the content before sharing. Formatting content as a ‘how to guide’ or ’10 step’ list are two ways to emphasize your content’s utility and shareability.
  3. Amplify your Reach: Companies have many opportunities to increase the reach of their traditional media coverage by sharing the story online – but how it’s shared will determine whether or not coverage is enhanced in a meaningful way. Consider pulling out key points that resonate with target audiences to capture their attention or drafting social media posts with messages specifically geared toward influencers. By enticing these groups with information they find valuable, the article you’re sharing will be more likely to be clicked on and read.
  4. Meet the Press: According to a report from Indiana University’s School of Journalism, 59.8 percent of reporters use social media to find story ideas. Following and interacting with target reporters on social media will help you learn more about what they’re interested in covering, as well as establish a relationship that could lead to interviews and coverage.
  5. Write for Search Engines: We all know that we have to keep search engine optimization (SEO) best practices in mind when creating written materials (e.g. press releases, blog posts). But it’s equally important to stay up to date with the latest changes to the SEO game. For example, it’s no longer really about keywords. The Googles of the world are moving toward semantic link building, which, in short, means that relevance to the consumer is important above all. Keywords aren’t the primary barometer for SEO success; writing with the end user’s needs in mind – as in linking full phrases, inquiries and questions – is a step toward search engine success. For more information, check out this infographic on “holistic SEO.”

What integrated communications tactics have you found to be effective? Let us know if the comments below!


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