Archives for category: Newspapers

When I blogged on July 18 about questions regarding the future of the printed newspaper, I hoped that my daily paper would have a print edition around long enough to carry my obituary. Well, it looks like I better die on the right day of the week.

The Syracuse Post Standard, an Advance Publications newspaper, announced yesterday that it would limit home delivery of the printed paper to Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. While it will continue a slimmed down print version the other days of the week, Advance said that edition will be reviewed before the end of 2013. The future for those days of the week looks bleak.

Advance’s decision regarding the Post Standard and a sister publication in Pennsylvania, which announced a similar plan on the same day, is not a surprise. Advance implemented similar models in Louisiana, Alabama and Michigan. As Lorraine Branham, dean of Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, put it in the Post’s coverage of its own news: “This is going to accelerate. They’re ahead of the game, and in some ways it’s really smart on their part.”

For public relations professionals who see the Post Standard as a vehicle for publicity, you can be sure that placements in the print edition will be particularly prized – especially in the Sunday edition, which is bound to maintain the greatest readership.  I believe the Opinion page on these dates will wield even greater authority and influence.

Advance Newspapers’ approach is another indicator, though, of what I called the Post-Publicity Era in my July 26 post. Media relations will continue to be important, but it will no longer be the defining capability of the effective public relations professional.  Communicators need to build the four corners of effective digitally powered public relations:

Community – Cultivate a network of connections with the broadest collection of people and institutions that represent your stakeholders. Databases and social media are critical digital tools.

Content – Build a system to generate news and information yourself in all formats – text, pictures, video and graphics. Your content must be honest and meaningful — not self-promotional fluff.

Channels – Maintain multiple distribution vehicles so you can self-publish and self-broadcast to your community. Use your channels first to talk to your community.

Metrics – Develop measurement standards and tools that align with your objectives and goals. Clips represent only one dimension of digitally powered PR.

Whenever any landscape changes, new growth emerges. No one can predict what’s in the future for the printed newspaper, but I am hopeful that Advance’s print-digital hybrid is a model that works. Print has an important role, even if it only gets delivered three days a week. And society needs the robust news gathering organizations that newspapers represent.

Greg Loh is the managing partner of public relations and public affairs at Eric Mower + Associates, one of the nation’s leading independent marketing communications agencies. Views expressed here are his own and do not reflect the opinions of EMA.

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In my last post, I wrote about the clouds of doubt hanging over the newspaper business. Those same questions hover over the other traditional mainstream news outlets — magazines, radio and broadcast television. Even social media can’t escape uncertainty. Look at the recent sale of Digg for what amounts to practically pennies.

In a news and information landscape that changes as quickly as the tides, there is one fundamental truth for public relations people:

It’s the news that matters – not the medium.

People can and do get their information from many sources. Much of what they get originates from PR people.  I don’t see that changing. In fact, I think it will grow, so PR people need to be able to create and deliver news themselves.To prosper in this digitally powered reality, every business needs to have a communications foundation with four strong corners:

1. Open Community

Maintain a living network of connections with the broadest collection of the people and institutions that represent your stakeholders. Create your own community that incudes those who support you and those who don’t. It must be both an analog community that includes direct physical contact and a digital one, with feedback and transparency enabled by social media.

2. Honest Content

Have a robust, cost-efficient system in place to generate news and information yourself – in text, pictures, video and graphics. Content should be persuasive, but it also must be must be “meaningful.”  That means solid, useful, relevant information that has value to the user.  People are smart, and they are getting smarter. The more they use search, the better they get at choosing between reliable sources of information and promotional junk. Expect the technology behind search to get even better at helping people make good choices.

3. Many Channels

Create multiple distribution vehicles so you can reach your community directly. Email. Social media. Direct mail. Live events. Publicity is important, too, but you need to give your organization the flexibility to make media coverage in whatever form it takes a bonus. Always use your channels first to talk to your community.

4. Strong Metrics

Know what you need to measure and create the most customized measurement tools your organization can afford. Digital tools make collecting quantitative and qualitative data more achievable than ever. Metrics are essential because they ensure what you’re doing is working, but they’re also needed because the highly visible and tangible proof once documented in clip reports is no longer as relevant or as thick.

Like media relationships that lead to great news coverage, the four corners can’t be built overnight. They take hard work and investment over a long period of time. If you’re organization wants to thrive in whatever the news media world becomes, make sure you’ve got the building blocks of your communications foundation in place.

The Post Publicity Era is coming. Are you ready?

Greg Loh is the managing partner of public relations and public affairs at Eric Mower + Associates, one of the nation’s leading independent marketing communications agencies. Views expressed here are his own and do not reflect the opinions of EMA.

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