In a world where coverage on the top three technology blog can generate less than 3,000 page views yet client’s blog posts routinely torch the top of TechMeme, what role does the media play in the future of media relations?
Well, the role of trusted opinion will likely not go away. But the role of informant and source of original information is shifting to the companies that are providing the news. This is a trend that is not unique to technology companies either.
Non tech story tellers
The Seattle Police Department has had a couple of viral successes lately. The articles are penned by a former journalist and are informative, entertaining and readable. And they don’t come from a news outlet. Similar story in Milwaukee where the police department there launched one of the most content-forward websites I’ve ever seen. As a former cops and crime reporter, I could only wish I had this level of access.
We’re seeing the evolution of message control in the entertainment space too. The lead singer of Machine Head, Robb Flynn, just launched a well-written diary/blog that’s already getting external coverage.
There’s tons of other examples of companies using their own properties to break news, control a conversation and establishing themselves as the definitive source of information on a topic. This tactic is not new. What is happening, however, is that the concept of media relations can be facilitated by an RSS feed. But here’s a big caveat here:
Using a blog as a trusted media source only works if there is a solid content strategy in place.
Using your blog as your news hub
We know that content strategies hinge on one important thing: content. But what kind of content works best? While the safe answer here is “it depends,” I’ll offer that the best content is what drives action. A simple product update can drive a fresh round of signups or sales and help drive the bottom line. All you need to do is ensure there’s a call to action that is clear and accessible.
But the real answer is simply to be present. Post about more than just news and invite a community to form around your content and embrace that community when it does form. Encourage your bloggers to be involved in the comments and establish their voice in the public.
But what’s this have to do with media relations? A lot. Access to information and exclusives puts a continuous strain on the relationship between flacks and hacks. Conditioning not only your consumer audience but also the media to seek information out from you first helps both parties.
The challenges of an open business
Now, there’s a couple of challenges with this evolution. Namely, not everything is news and not everything is public. For the first one, that’s the beauty of the blog. A blog post of product updates and features may not generate coverage, but it gives you an opportunity to share some deep links to product pages and show some product images.
As for the fact that you’ll still have embargoed or NDA information? Well, that’s where the relations part of this equation comes into play.