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Posts tagged newspapers

What Newspaper Layoffs Mean for PR

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by Stephen Ursery

A couple of days ago, The New York Times announced it was cutting about 100 jobs in its newsroom. Since we’re a company founded by and heavily staffed by former ink-stained wretches, we were saddened by the news. Unfortunately, it’s been a tough few weeks for those who, like us, love the newspaper industry.

In early September, USA Today said it planned to eliminate up to 70 employees, with approximately half the cuts coming from the newsroom. Just last week, Freedom Communications decided to cease production of its five-month-old Los Angeles Register daily newspaper and also announced job reductions at its Orange County Register.

As industry observers know, the recent layoffs are part of a long-term pattern, as newspapers battle declining advertising dollars and dwindling circulation numbers. Still, one shouldn’t declare newspapers dead just yet, argues Rem Rieder, media columnist for USA Today in a recent column.

“It’s important to keep in mind that many newspapers remain profitable — the Times said it needed to make the latest cuts to protect that profitability — and the industry, despite its highly publicized woes, remains a $35 billion business,” Rieder writes. “That’s not nothing.”

“If they are to make it in the long run, newspapers will have to heighten their digital footprints and find new ways to attract digital audiences,” which will require plenty of “bold experimenting,” Rieder concludes.

What does all this mean for PR firms and their clients?

First off, don’t write off newspapers. Yes, their readership may have declined, but they remain powerful voices within their markets. Furthermore, with reporters and editors being stretched like never before, this creates more opportunities to provide them with story ideas and also means PR reps and clients should be prepared to help these reporters and editors as much as they can. (The same holds true for magazine staffers, of course.)

Secondly, PR programs should engage in some “bold experimentation” as well and not rely as heavily on print media as they may have in the past. To tell clients’ stories and position them as thought leaders, make use of a range of methods, from white papers and videos to online technologies such as SlideShare. At The Wilbert Group, we’ve had remarkable success with SlideShare, creating three presentations for North American Properties (which can be viewed here, here and here), and we’re now working on several others as well.

In short, the rumors of newspapers’ death may have been exaggerated, but the need for multi-pronged PR programs is very real.

Five Reasons You Should Consider Becoming Your Own Media Company

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 by Nancy E. Johnson

During my career in television news, I helped hurricane victims tell their stories of despair as they lost everything and their stories of hope about rebuilding. I still remember the pride in the faces of middle school children who suddenly enjoyed reading and writing after they were asked to write their own personal stories of despair and triumph. There’s tremendous power in stories.

Now at The Wilbert Group, I see great opportunities for our clients to become storytellers. Everybody has a story and so do brands. Now is the time to take control of your brand narrative, become your own media company and tell your unique story to consumers.

Let’s look at why the timing is right for content creation and why the most iconic brands are taking the lead.

#1 The traditional media landscape is changing. When I was a reporter, news budgets were flush and newsrooms fully staffed. Those were the glory days. They’re gone. The Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism reports that nearly one-third of consumers have abandoned traditional news outlets because they’re not getting the content they need. Also, Pew reports that news staffs have been cut by 30 percent since 2000. With the digital revolution, consumers have so many new choices for getting information. As a brand, this is a huge opportunity for you to deliver your news content directly to your audience.

#2 Consumers are hungry for relevant, engaging content. People are more savvy than ever before and they’re demanding information that is compelling and meaningful. While you’ll still pitch stories to traditional media, you can now connect directly with your audience. You should create content based on facts just like any good journalism. That content should be generated frequently and consistently, providing real value for consumers. This is rich content that builds community around your brand and creates a powerful experience for everyone who interacts with that brand.

#3 Coke is king of content and your brand can be, too. Have you been to Coca-Cola’s corporate website lately? It’s not stodgy or traditional at all. Instead, executives at the company deliberately created a digital magazine with a lively brand voice that is smart, fun and fearless.  It’s called Coca-Cola Journey and the stories are not self-promotional. Instead, you’ll find articles on everything from a profile of a top chef to a study on whether German men are cheerful cuddlers. The new approach to content is working. In the year that Journey has been out, Coca-Cola has had 9.2 million total visitors and 54,000 shares of content socially compared with no shares on the old site.

#4 Keeping your armpits fresh can lead to great lifestyle content. Yeah, I’m talking about deodorant. And so is Degree for Men. But you wouldn’t know if from looking at  the website. The company created a branded magazine called The Adrenalist that appeals to the lifestyle of men who use this brand of deodorant. The stories are all about cool adventures, gear and gadgets and extreme sports. After 18 months on the market, The Adrenalist has received 2.4 million visits. The site operates like any newsroom with an editorial calendar that gets updated every week based on what’s happening in the world and what’s trending in social media.

#5 People won’t just “like” your brand, they’ll love it! Content creation, when it’s done right, can help you build community with the people who share your brand’s core values. You’re generating content that they can share in social media, talk to their friends about and connect with in a meaningful way. Forget pushing product launches and discounts. Think about people, experiences and ideas that advance your brand narrative. If you produce compelling articles, videos and photography to tell those stories, your audience won’t be able to resist. You’ll endear their loyalty and earn brand love.