As media paradigms and economics have shifted, arguably so has the very nature of news. Certainly, a big story – one that shapes markets and opinions – is still a big story. However, a quick look at industry publications and the web sites of some of the biggest news outlets today reveals a shift in coverage, and it’s not so subtle. Media are aligning coverage with what interests their audiences, not the other way around.
An extreme example of this is the coverage that CNN devoted to Miley Cyrus’ controversial performance at the VMAs, despite the fact that the political situation in Syria was coming to a head at the same time. CNN – a leading outlet by anyone’s measure – devoted its front-page to Cyrus’ spectacle, rather than the violence breaking out in the Middle East.
Attend the Newsworthiness: New Context & Opportunities for PR session at the PRSA International Conference, Tuesday, Oct. 29, 8–9:15 a.m. Room: Franklin 3 (Hotel Floor 4)
Why was that the case? Simple. More people are interested in (and in the ensuing days would be searching) for information relating to Cyrus’ performance rather than the situation in Syria. From a web traffic – and ad dollars – perspective, the Cyrus story was the clear choice.
News outlets have to make calculated decisions about what they cover. There’s a balance between serving the stories they know audiences are interested in, are searching for and are likely to share on social networks. On the flipside of that coin are the less sexy stories– those covering foreign policy or local government, for example. I don’t think anyone of us would deny that those types of stories are really important. However, let’s face it– in most cases they don’t set readers interest aflame, and they don’t generate the sort of click throughs, search engine traffic and social buzz that a good celebrity scandal does.
Lessons for PR: redefining news
Within this reality are some important lessons for public relations.
One of the most important, I believe, is rethinking what our definition of news is. In addition to the big announcements relating to events that impact our organizations top lines, we have to be thinking about what audiences are into interested in our day-to-day basis, as well.
Maintaining a constant flow of interesting content is crucial if your organization wants to stay top of mind and today’s digital environment, however, this exercise requires PR to re-think messaging strategy, and expand the definition of news, just as media outlets have, to encompass content that educates and informs the audience. Developing a stream of useful information keeps the brand top of mind, and wins valuable share of voice for the brand around key topics.
If you’re in Philadelphia for PRSA, attend my session, Newsworthiness: New Context & Opportunities for PR, tomorrow morning (10/29, 8 a.m., room – Franklin 3)
For some additional ideas on developing relevant public relations and marketing content for your organization, download my free ebook, “Driving Content Discovery.” In it you’ll find tips, examples and ideas for improving the discoverability of your content by making it more timely and relevant to your audiences.