The New York Times recently featured an article about the world of journalism, online news and the lack of glory in being a journalist today.
“In a World of Online News, Burnout Starts Younger,” NYT’s Jeremy W. Peters explores how reporters are under more pressure to be the “most viewed article” on the website. Gawker even displays the top ten articles on large flat screen televisions in their newsroom. It has been dubbed as “big board” and is updated hourly.
With tightening budgets and magazines and newspapers cutting reporters left and right, the ones who remain now have less bandwidth and must compete to get the most page views. With their jobs and livelihood on the line each and every day, there’s never been a more critical time for PR professionals to reflect and be more cognizant of how they are approaching these time-strapped and multi-tasking reporters every day.
So what can we do to make their lives a little easier? How do we help those reporters make their articles reach the top ten?
Be interesting and relevant
Look at your favorite news website - what’s in the top ten for the day? What’s being read? Chances are, it’s an article that is timely, interesting and relevant to all the readers of each website. Reporters who are competing with each other aren’t going to be looking at a simple (and let’s face it – yawn – oftentimes boring) product pitch to get in the top ten, they need something more compelling, more relevant, more consumable.
So, look at the big picture
Reporters are looking for those ideas that show what’s going on in the world and how it ties into their readers. As a PR professional, if you’re able to spot the upcoming trends before they are fully formed, you’ll be an asset to the reporter. If you have zeroed in on an emerging trend, be selective in who you send it to -- giving a highly-targeted reporter an exclusive to the bigger picture story will help them “wow” their audience, ensure the right visibility for your client, and only strengthen your media relationships for future benefit.
Get to know your reporters
Reporters have never been more accessible than now. If you take the time to really get to know each of your target reporters, it will not only help you and your clients, but you may find that you’ve forged a new relationship (and friendship) for the long-term. The best PR/reporter relationships are ones in which there is a mutually beneficial and respectful relationship and rapport. Take the time to see what they’re Tweeting, blogging and writing about – i.e. take the time to get to know them. See if they have personal blogs, too (e.g. a reporter might have a personal blog about parenting; perhaps something you could relate back to in your conversation) and get to know them on a personal level. They are, after all, humans just like us!
As PR professionals, communications is our forte and trade. With all these new forms of communication, it is up to us to figure out the most appropriate and relevant way to get in front of these reporters with a carefully crafted and thoughtful angle or story. With the right approach, they will look to us as excellent resources for their next big idea and will view us as a partner in their success, helping them reach the “big board.”