These are the best of times and the worst of times for PR agencies, but mostly the best of times. On the bright side more organizations than ever are recognizing the importance of good internal and external communications. In short, we’re busy these days working with clients in the private and public sectors helping them solve communications challenges.
One of our core services is media relations. It’s our job to earn positive publicity for our clients by persuading reporters and bloggers to cover stories featuring our clients. While we have a strong history of success doing so, we’d be lying if we said it was easy. In fact, it’s getting harder all the time as we’re faced with constantly shrinking newsrooms.
Recently, for example, the Winnipeg Free Press saw a number of senior reporters leave the paper either for other media outlets or different careers. This is nothing new, but it reminded us that there are fewer reporters in fewer newsrooms covering the news today.
Build your own newsroom
So what do you do when an increasing number of organizations are seeking publicity from a shrinking pool of media people and outlets? For Mark Ragan, the answer is simple: you create your own newsroom and deliver your own brand journalism. Find the hero in the story and tell it. Don’t worry about putting your brand name in the headline or the lead. Tell a good story first. Your role in it will come out.
Ragan was in Winnipeg last Friday delivering a workshop on brand journalism to the Manitoba chapter of the Canadian Public Relations Society. He spoke to a packed room of PR people who wanted to hear from one of their industry leaders on how he’s advising his clients to communicate to the public today.
Ragan pointed to examples of successful brand journalism today including Microsoft, American Express’ Open Forum and Export Development Canada’s ExportWise. Those organizations are telling their own stories journalistically – interviewing frontline people delivering services and providing expert advice to customers. They tell stories featuring real human emotion and drama using words, pictures, video and infographics.
With social media today, we have an unparalleled ability to reach vast audiences on our own. We’ve been preaching this to our clients for years, helping them develop great content strategies for their organizations. Ragan’s workshop reminded us how quickly this new paradigm of communications is taking root across the world.
It takes courage for organizations to go this route. You have to be prepared to communicate in a much less formal and formulaic way. Are you ready to have your frontline people and customers interviewed? Are you prepared to dedicate resources to publishing a steady stream of content for your company?
Companies that successfully use this approach find the benefits outweigh the costs. At the end of the day, their brands are much more visible and better understood. That leads to more sales and conversions and awareness. And, ironically, Ragan says that packaging your content professionally ends up earning more publicity from the media.
PS. Dooley Communications was happy to sponsor the CPRS Manitoba Ragan Brand Journalism workshop #RaganCPRSMB. If you or your organization are interested in telling your stories better, give us a call. That’s what we do.