Media relations: PR still needs to adapt to the Digital Age

by | Aug 27, 2015 | Public Relations, Traditional Media

The reality of PR today is that while the media has changed from a print mechanism to a mobile multimedia environment, PR remains stuck in the 20th century. As consumers, we want our news on demand, and in turn demand that credible journalists give it to us immediately. And not just written stories—video, audio, live feeds, you name it. We’d also prefer it digested into cool headlines, in 140 characters, in 6-second vines and matching quizzes. Now, journalists need all these tools of the trade and more. And how do PR pros reach them?

Phone and email. Maybe a tweet.

Is it working? Sources say, no.

  • According to the social newsroom network Babbler, reporters delete 75% of pitches from unknown publicists and from wire service press releases—without ever opening them.
  • The Financial Times reports that there are 5 PR pros for every 1 U.S. journalist
  • A Forbes reporter can work on five stories/day—writing 2, editing 2 for colleagues and researching a feature story.
  • Thanks to caller ID, an unwanted call to a reporter can get you blocked and deleted, almost instantly. Bye-bye exclusive.

Your pitch—no matter how targeted—is an interruption.

While massive media databases have greatly helped the industry in identifying journalists, our media lists have grown from a little black book of key contacts to 1000 person databases. The result? PR pros carpet-bomb their lists instead of making each pitch relevant and timely for the media cycle. And although there are great media monitoring systems in the market, we’re still training our PR people to pester reporters and editors to find out that critical publication date. And in the end, we’re destroying the very relationships with journalists that we’re trying to build.

The advent of inbound marketing has taught savvy marketers that “pulling” in customers with killer content is not only the way to achieve sales success, but it creates educated and loyal customers in the process. Most importantly, it puts the customer in the driver’s seat—getting and choosing the content they want when they want it.

Unfortunately, PR is still functioning like a “push” mechanism – and as a result we’re perceived as pushy, instead of persistently helpful in generating news.

What media relations needs today is a social platform that allows journalists to get the full story in one location—all the clips, photos, content, sources and 1:1 communication. That’s why we invented Babbler. We wanted to create a platform that would become the dashboard of the PR industry. One that that reporters would check daily—like Twitter. To find breaking news on the brands they cover and also plan out future stories—with sources and content—weeks in advance. A true 2-way platform that starts with the journalists’ needs and then teaches PR pros how to give it to them—when they need it, how they need it. So rather than blindly sending the same pitch to 100’s a blind list of recipients, when YouTube Vloggers want links, bloggers want tons of images and the print press want copy.

After talking to the biggest agencies and brands in the world, we designed Babbler as:

  • The first real-time media relations platform for the digital age.
  • The only opt-in network that lets media and PR pros instantly share news, content and messages in a single platform.
  • A platform that specifically matches brands with the reporters who need their news.
  • A one stop shop for PR and media pros.
  • The only 2-way communication platform for reporters and PR pros.
  • A platform that makes all content, images, releases and contacts shareable.

PR today demands real-time, personalized connects between PR pros and journalists. If we can’t do that, we’ll see not only a further erosion of our media relationships, but a rise in the already astronomical churn levels on account teams and in PR departments. PR Daily reported that our industry saw a 55% turnover rate in 2013. And unhappy employees lead to unhappy clients and executives. According to the Bedford Group, client/agency tenure has shrunk from more than seven years to less than three years.

In PR, we serve two masters: 1. the reporters and bloggers and 2. the clients or executives who invest our efforts. For the latter, we need to show the fruits of our efforts—the hits, but also reporter interest in downloads, feedback, conversations and the means to analyze and report on those interactions. In the 21st century PR world, our clients—internal or external—will demand total transparency, not to mention a solid ROI on that investment.

Today, agencies including Golin, and brands like Lenovo, Canon, Salvatore Ferragamo are using Babbler as the centerpiece to communicate with reporters and with each other. The most surprising result is that agencies who talk to their prospects about their use of Babbler report a significantly higher rate of closing new business. Babbler has become the secret sauce, helping agencies be seen as at the cutting edge of media relations, and generating the results to back it up.

Guest contributor Hannah Oiknine is the CEO & Co-Founder of Babbler, the first real-time media relations platform for the digital age. Used by more than 250 brands and 30+ agencies worldwide, Babbler is the only opt-in network that lets media and PR pros instantly share news, content and messages in a single platform.

Hannah Oiknine