From the Archives – PR Firms as “News Stations?”

(Originally written March 10, 2010 – crossposted at PR Open Mic)
Why aren’t Public Relations firms more effectively using new media tools to create their own “news stations,” reporting on what their clients are doing? As long as those firms fulfill government requirements for disclosure regarding clients/freebies/etc., it makes sense to create content to their client’s advantage.

Now this might seem to run counter to what I’ve said recently about the importance of companies taking control of their own social media messaging. It is important for your organization to create its own social media content, especially blogging and video work. But if you have a PR firm on contract, then you should let the firm showcase its content on their own blog.  It not only promotes the firm (and you as a client of the firm), it’s additional information about your organization that can be picked up by Google searches.

Why and how should a firm set up an online newsroom?

  • It’s like setting up any other blog, with categories and/or pages for each client, and using tags for subcategories.
  • With a WordPress theme like Thesis, and/or an SEO plug in like you’re posts about each client will also appear in an SEO-friendly format
  • Firms usually give the responsibility of creating basic content (press releases, story pitches, etc) to younger assistant account executives. Also put them in charge of creating the social media content as it relates to your clients.
  • Give these junior AE’s ownership of promoting their client on your Firm’s News Blog. This helps them to develop the needed social media skills for the changing PR sphere.
  • Firms should let their Account Executives promote this material to the media, especially the media in smaller communities where local news outlets might have suffered most from the recent economic crunch.

And as long as they follow some SEO rules (keeping in mind that SEO might become secondary from this point on, falling to more organic social connections) PR firms will be able to drive more online searches not just to their client’s site, but to their own as well, which can help in getting more business. (Since the firm can show potential new clients that they are able to work outside the traditional media, or even the recurring idea of “blogger relations”)

Now what do you think? Should more firms take the lead in developing their own news outlet for client and firm news? Or should they spend more time working with the traditional media?

Newspapers – Heal Thyself?

Is the world of newspapers really as bad off as recently reported? I’ve given this a lot of thought after reading today that Editor and Publisher was going under. In the last few years a lot of newspapers have shrunk, fired staff, closed down, or merged with other news outlets (TV, etc) in response to a diminishing readership and the recent economic crunch.  People have asked if this means that newspapers are on their last leg.

No, it doesn’t. In fact, I’m willing to bet that when the newspaper shakedown is over you are going to see the resurgence of the hometown newspaper. In smaller towns there are very few media outlets, and the newspaper still plays a major role in informing the public.

It’s this focusing of effort that will help save newspapers. They will still have to reduce staff, because some of the staff used in the paper’s expansion will become redundant (as they say in the Isles)

In larger towns and cities, regional papers will probably have to revert back to that hometown model – for instance, the Albuquerque Journal (my local paper) needs to refocus from trying to be “New Mexico’s Biggest Newspaper” to Albuquerque’s newspaper. They have a bureau in Santa Fe for the “Journal North/Santa Fe” section that needs to be shut down. Santa Fe has its own paper, the Santa Fe New Mexican, which is successful in Santa Fe while not competing with the Journal in Albuquerque. The Journal will never be able to successfully overthrow the New Mexican, so why not pack it in, bring some of the staff to fill vacancies that have gone unfilled for over a year, and refocus their efforts on their core market?

Another question involves changing the media consolidation rules, while allowing for much smaller, more targeted media outlets to grown. Is this a threat to the current laws limiting consolidation of media outlets in a certain area? If newspapers can’t merge with TV stations and/or radio stations and end up going out of business – is this really better for the community?

The Bell Might Not Toll for Thee, Tribune

This report is in from the Santa Fe New Mexican – Doug Turner, CEO of DW Turner Strategic Communications and Tom Carroll, President of DW Turner – are making a bid to buy the Albuquerque Tribune.  If this is true, it would be a very interesting turn in the saga that has been the potential closing of the Albuquerque Tribune.  In full disclosure,  I have worked at DW Turner before, and have many friends currently working at the Tribune.  Doug and Tom are great people to work for, and they know how to run a dynamic company that is capable of changing in the ever fluctuating media landscape.

As I said in previous posts, anyone buying the Tribune would be faced with many possibilities and pitfalls – they would not have any income coming in from the Joint Operating Agreement, they would not have access to the Journal’s equipment or advertising and publishing staff, they would have to start from scratch.  That said, they would also be able to publish a morning paper, print on Sundays, switch design from a broadsheet design to a tabloid design and they could remain creative with their design and online content.  In fact, who knows what they could plan to do with the Tribune!  It could be something completely different than what any of us are thinking.
I’ve got to jet to bed – long days today and tomorrow – but I am looking forward to  the future of the Tribune and media in Albuquerque.  As I said earlier tonight on DCF, It’s going to be an exciting time!