Tag Archives: content

As newspapers prepare for a future online, PR must stay ahead

wordcloud-social-media

This afternoon was the CIPR North West’s event Social Media and the Law, with speakers Tony McDonough, Business Reporter at the Liverpool Echo, and Steve Kuncewicz, a media law specialist.

I like to think I have quite a good grasp of legal issues surrounding social media, but Steve’s talk was really interesting and very informative – especially on issues like NLA copyright and recent legislation like the Right To Be Forgotten and changes to the Defamation law.

Steve also stressed the importance of being aware of a social network’s terms and conditions in relation to hosting competitions (I imagine many marketers fall foul of this) and of being careful with paid brand advocates, who can find themselves breech of Advertising Standards Authority regulations, which apply equally to social media and websites.

Meanwhile, Tony McDonough from the Echo gave us a good oversight about how the newspaper landscape is changing. He talked about research by Ross Dawson, who estimated that in the UK, the last print edition of a newspaper will go to the presses in 2017. While Tony didn’t necessarily agree with that timescale, he said he accepted that print newspapers will, at some time, “go off the edge of the cliff” and that their future lies online. He also cited some really interesting stats about how many hits the Liverpool Echo website gets daily – and how much this has grown in the past few years. In 2009, when the Echo’s digital news team launched the website was getting 56m hits a year. Now it achieves that in a little over a month, with around 1.5m hits every day. This has risen as high as 5.5m on key news days such as Ladies Day at Aintree and the recent visit of the Three Queens to the River Mersey.

In contrast to that, however, 70% of the Echo’s revenue is still from print adverts – so it seems that advertisers are slow to recognise the size and potential of the online audience, and the Echo’s challenge is to convince them of that before the print edition does “go off the cliff”.

Tony said the newsdesk ethos has changed from: “What can I put in the paper tomorrow?” to “What can I put online now?”, and that the paper is operating a ‘web first’ policy. But he added that he had never known a time when the newspaper had so few staff and yet so much content to create.

And that, I think, is where public relations can come into its own. Tony said that multimedia is very much part of the consideration when deciding whether a story is a runner or not. He said that, as a bare minimum, a story has to include one high-res landscape image – whether professionally shot or just snapped quickly on a phone. The Echo are also happy to receive video and audio for their online stories. At this point in time their requirements aren’t particularly sophisticated – just a quick grab of video could help you get your story on their website or social feeds – but I guess that in the very near future the requirements of journalists will begin to be more exacting and simple talking heads and video grabs will no longer suffice…. But that’s one for another day!

It was also really interesting to hear the impact that social has on the traffic to the Liverpool Echo’s website. 50% of traffic comes from Facebook but in contrast just 5% from Twitter. It would be really interesting to delve into those numbers and figure out the reasons for that – I wonder if that is a common theme of all news outlets?

But it was clear that press releases are still important to journalists and will remain so for some time. So whilst we, as public relations people, must get better at providing journalists with the multimedia content they need, that will still need to be accompanied with written text in one form or another that can be quickly and easily recycled into a news story by time-pressed journalists.

I’m certain that the need for multimedia content will only grow and grow – as will expectations about its quality. With so much opportunity to work with our journalist colleagues we can’t afford not to move forward to help them create the kind of content Tony said he wants – “interesting, compelling and relevant”. And we need to do it quickly.

Want to know what digital journalists really want from PRs?

news_website_screenshot

I think we all realise the world of newspaper journalism has changed almost beyond recognition in the last few years – and will continue to do so in those to come.

Newspaper journalists are increasingly concerned with creating digital content – recording video and audio interviews, breaking news on twitter rather than waiting for the next day’s print edition.

Our main local daily newspaper the Liverpool Echo, is no exception and recently advertised for a number of ‘bloggers’, rather than ‘journalists’.

As PR people we need to keep up too – yes we’re trying to create digital content for our own organisations but we mustn’t forget our mutually  important relationship with our old friends the newspaper journalists.

And if we aren’t paying attention to what they need to help them create compelling content, we won’t be doing our jobs properly.

So, if you are in the North West you may be interested to come along to a really interesting sounding CIPR North West event on Friday, June 26 (12.20-2.30pm) in Liverpool. The guest speaker will be Tony McDonough, the Liverpool Echo’s senior business editor, He will be talking about how he and his colleagues source and promote stories through social media – and give an insight into the type of content he wants for today’s print and online publications.

As well as Tony, the event will also hear from  media law specialist Steve Kuncewicz who will talk about some of the legal considerations for PR people on social media and how to avoid the most common pitfalls.

It promises to be a really interesting and useful event.

If you’d like to go along, tickets are available to buy online now.

A cautionary tale

This really interesting article from The Guardian was doing the rounds on social media this weekend: ‘Overnight, everything I loved was gone’: the internet shaming of Lindsey Stone.

It demonstrates how easily your internet life can be hijacked, sometimes after a single tweet posted by you or others, and how that can have potentially disastrous repercussions for your offline life.

If I were a teacher or parent of teenagers, I’d urge them to read this article. In fact I’m sure we all could benefit from taking a moment to consider what lessons we can learn from this. The fact is that the throwaway comments or ‘in jokes’ you might safely share with people you know offline can take a whole new meaning when typed out and shared with the world online. We’re all human, we all make mistakes. But the internet can be a very unforgiving place.

It also reiterates the importance of brand building, not just for companies, but for people too. And once you’ve built that brand, you need to look after and protect it. As the article sadly demonstrates, sometimes your reputation can be rubbished online in a very short space of time, and through no fault of your own. But there are also plenty of silly mistakes you can learn to avoid.

I was fascinated to read about how Lindsey Stone was being helped to repair her online reputation with the aid of content creation, designed to fool search engines into pushing the results about her earlier misdemeanour further down the rankings. And it worked – but it requires an ongoing concerted effort with content being churned out to keep repressing those stories from two years ago.

None of us wants to be in the position that Lindsey finds herself in, and I hope that she is able to genuinely move on and stop living in fear of one past mistake constantly resurfacing. For her sake and for all those other women who share her name!

But certainly I would urge you to read this article, and bear in mind what lessons we – both as individuals and as guardians of brands online –  need to learn.

More changes to Facebook newsfeed

On Friday, Facebook announced more changes to the way in which it selects which of a Page’s posts will appear in the newsfeeds of those who’ve ‘liked’ it.

Facebook say the changes are designed to reduce the amount of promotional posts in users’ newsfeeds, and instead encourage pages to produce more engaging content.

These are the two examples of the kinds of status updates which will, from January 2015, see a much reduced organic reach on Facebook:

Example post1

Example post 2

Encouraging quality content in itself is no bad thing – organisations and brands should already be striving to do this.

And while this change is probably not as alarming to public sector pages as to those companies whose main purpose is selling products or services – it should be taken as a wake up call that unless we get more creative about our content, nobody is going to see it!

Clearly, Facebook is much more focused these days on encouraging companies to turn to paid advertising and promoted posts. But in the public sector where budgets are squeezed, the main focus has to be on organic reach, which is decreasing all the time.

We hear a lot about PR being the new ‘brand journalism’, and this is an excellent reminder of why that must be our focus.

Facebook has given us a fantastic way to build and participate in communities, reach stakeholders directly and develop positive relationships online. Now we need to work harder to make sure that the content we are producing is relevant, interesting, and of value to our audiences.

How the personal touch is selling t-shirts on Facebook

This advert popped into my Facebook newsfeed the other day:

Personalised Facebook Ad - It's A Melling Thing slogan t-shirt

It struck me as a really clever way to advertise – and it’s not surprising that it got plenty of shares, likes and comments, because it’s not only an advert, it’s a real talking point too, and something a little bit different.

It also goes to show how well you can target an audience with Facebook ads.

As well as all those shares and likes lots of the people who commented on the advert tagged family members in their comments, increasing the visibility of the ad even further.

All in all it’s not just an advert, it’s great content too.

And reading the comments was really interesting, as it became a kind of magnet for the Mellings of the world to say hello to each other and talk a little bit about their family history:

Comments on the It's A Melling Thing t-shirt advert

I would love to see the analytics at the end of this campaign, but suffice to say it’s going to be a hit.

Simple but effective, it is certainly something to think about when planning a Facebook advert campaign.

And there are a few Mellings on my side of the family who might even wake up to one of those T-shirts on Christmas morning!