PR practitioners were not surprised by the recent results from Pew Research Center’s State of the News Media 2013 surveys. Readers who access news online, using their smart phones, has increased from 34 to 39 since 2010. Social media, emails and podcasts has also risen to an average of 50 percent – slightly below television’s daily audience and ahead of print and radio. The increasing changes have PR practitioners wondering if spokesperson training is up to date with these media relations developments. A recent article in PR Tactics gives PR professionals tactics on how to move forward with these developments.
Brad Philips, author of “The Media Training Bible” and president of Philips Media Relations, says although many of the same rules apply, there are a few major differences that spokespeople need to look out for.
- Keep it quick. This may seem obvious as it has always been a good idea to speak in soundbites. However, especially with the popularity of social media sites such as Twitter, which limits users to 140 characters, speaking in soundbites can lead to significant advantages. Soundbites gives spokespeople the opportunity to control exactly what quotes people will share. These quotes will in turn be simple, memorable, and on point.
- Consider context. Every social media site involves different types of interactions – some spread news worthy of national newspapers, while others simply spread gossip. It is important to understand who you are working with rather than just how they operate, whether through traditional or new media.
- Stay alert. Interviews are no longer simply “on the record” or not. Social media has seemingly made people forget that they need to always watch what they are saying. Every action that people take on social media sites can be used as information for an unofficial interview without even a warning.
Philips goes on to recommend these specific actions:
- Specify between business and personal profiles. It can be hard to see the differences between the two but it is necessary. For example, organizations should specify whether their Twitter accounts are focused towards prospective customers and partners, or if their Facebook is best used for customer support.
- Self-publish relevant material for your audience. Brand journalism and owned media strategies can attract inbound media opportunities, especially if posts are optimized for search engines. Many editors browse Google search when looking for certain topics, so when your headline comes up you may be positioned as the leading authority on the topic they are investigating.
- Leverage online video. Video posts can be particularly attractive when journalists are considering which spokespeople have the knowledge and personalities they want for their stories.