Tag Archives: Steve Kuncewicz

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

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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?

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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.