There aren’t many tradeshows we start planning our PR campaigns around more than six months in advance. CES is one of them, and it’s about as far from an ordinary tradeshow as you can get. With thousands of companies exhibiting, it’s easy to get lost in the noise if you don’t carefully plan your attendance and associated PR activities.
CES is often the culmination of years of work. Engineering, product development, marketing and events teams stress over it. In the days leading up to it, the fight or flight reflex kicks in and adrenaline rushes through your veins, and when you make it through to the other side, bold thinking is rewarded with buzz and new customers.
When it comes to PR there, the rewards are big, but so are the pitfalls. In the eyes of the media, you will either be a massive success or a complete nobody. That may be a bitter pill to swallow, but it’s the truth.
The media are on the lookout for the “next big thing” – which isn’t something they find every year. Dealers are at the show looking at the trends and products that are going to shape their inventory. Companies are both sizing up the competition and identifying potential partners.
Having a story is table stakes. Are you making a new product announcement? You should. If not, is there an update to the product you showcased last year or a new use case? It needs to be a big one. Without a news hook and ideally something eye-catching, you’re going to struggle.
What you’re announcing should be your single biggest story of the year. It can sometimes be challenging to resist the temptation of a quick win to hold a story for several months. Your sales team might be itching to sell a product (and they can before a formal announcement in many cases) or you might have pressure from your CMO. But resist that temptation.
One client I worked with really got it. Every year, all of its teams were aligned to introduce new products at CES. It introduced proof-of-concept devices that gave visitors to its booth a peek into the future, which showed the possibilities of its technologies. That led to hundreds of articles, a full slate of customer meetings, tier 1 wins and more. It had four Wall Street Journal articles in the span of less than a week and that was just the tip of the iceberg.
It wasn’t always so successful, however. A handful of people within its marketing and comms teams pushed hard internally to transform the company from a conservative organization to a bolder-thinking, marketing-led one. It previously made minor announcements at CES to minimal success. All of that changed in just one year and it never looked back. A few years later, it was acquired for several billion dollars and in my mind, it was that change in mindset that drove it there.
Assuming that you have your story, the next step is completely buttoning up how you’re going to tell it. You want to be able to answer the following questions by Thanksgiving:
1. What is your news?
2. Why should anyone care?
3. What are we inviting people to experience or learn about at your CES booth?
4. What is the most important messaging?
5. Who are the core spokespeople who will speak to the media?
This also means having your press release, press kit and any other assets finalized by the time you’re off enjoying Thanksgiving dinner. When your PR team gets back, they’re going to receive the first iteration of the CES media list, and that means it’s GO time. They’ll be trimming that list down from 5,000+ attendees to a highly targeted 5 to 10 percent of that number.
Your team will want to begin pre-pitching your news and inviting media to briefings and product demos as soon as possible. They will want to tease certain announcements, offer previews in to key journalists, and bring relevant products to pre-event showcases like CES Unveiled Paris, Amsterdam or New York.
The sooner the messaging elements are complete, the better – and more likely – the media efforts and results will be.
Stay tuned for part two in this CES series, where we’ll dive into how to make the most out of your experience on-the-ground at the event.
May 25 is when it all changes. If that date isn’t circled on your calendar a little over two weeks from now, it should be, because that’s when the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will kick into effect. As my colleague Alex Jafarzadeh recently wrote, it’s imperative to communicate honestly with stakeholders about the change. But, marketers must also look inwardly to adapt their processes and adjust to their new reality.
Marketers must not only ensure that all of their systems used internally to capture and handle customer and lead data are compliant, they also need to worry about third-party providers. Your website, landing pages, forms, etc. will all potentially need to be updated. However, if, for example, you work with a publisher on a lead gen program, you will now need to ensure that they too are compliant with GDPR, as the rules apply to both owned lead sources and external vendors acting on behalf of your organization.
The costs of non-compliance are crushing for any organization that sells to customers in the European Union, particularly for smaller businesses, with fines up to €20 million or 4 percent of global revenues – whichever is greater.
With the potentially disastrous consequences of non-compliance and the extra regulations imposed on the methods used to capture and communicate with leads, does this mean that your lead gen efforts will suffer?
For far too many businesses, the answer to that question may be yes because many organizations have been careless with customer data. However, if your organization already has a thoughtful data management process in place and it has implemented an inbound, audience-centric approach to lead generation and nurturing, GDPR may only result in minor changes for you.
Marketers have been playing fast and loose with leads for too long. As one example, email volume increased by 17 percent last year and that shows no signs of stopping. Just because a lead signed up to download one specific piece of content doesn’t mean that they want to receive daily email updates that may not be relevant to them, or that it’s an open invitation for your sales team to relentlessly hound them. While that should have been obvious all along, GDPR will help further ensure that that customer information isn’t abused.
First, ensure that you have permission for all marketing activities. You can’t assume that people who request to receive a promotional piece of content, such as a gated lead gen asset, want to be signed up for other communications. You must now have them opt-in (and preferably double opt-in) to every type of communication that they want to receive. Data permission must be made a priority. There’s an upside beyond GDPR compliance, too, as this also enables you to more deeply segment customers or prospects by their interests.
Second, you must ensure that you’re not collecting any more data than is necessary, because GDPR requires a legally justifiable reason to collect personal data. For most B2B brands, this won’t entail any major adjustments, but it’s worth considering whether anything other than a lead’s name and email is necessary in many cases to receive content. A smart demand gen program should be set up to progressively capture more information about a lead as their interest grows, and GDPR will force marketers to innovate on that approach by offering real value in exchange for personal data.
Lastly, as the right to be forgotten has entered the mainstream, it is no longer advisable to keep data in perpetuity. It is our responsibility as marketers to ensure that any time someone asks to access or remove their data from a database, that they can do so promptly. Regular cleansing should take place to eliminate leads that haven’t engaged with a company in a while to focus marketing efforts on leads that have the most potential. By keeping up-to-date lists and allowing leads to cleanse themselves or revise their information, it will not only save marketers time, it will shift the focus toward the best opportunities.
GDPR may or may not require a major shift in your organization, but it’s going to force marketing innovation to rapidly accelerate. Creating interest in your company via PR activities and developing creative content to captivate your audience will become even more important. Promoting the fruits of those activities on social and using those channels to engage directly with target audiences will be critical to gain influence. Over time, new tactics will emerge that will rebuild trust between organizations and individuals, revolving around personalization, branding and influencer engagement.
Your audience’s attention is worth its weight in gold and it has been long overdue for the scales to tip in their favor.
As we look back at last week’s Boston Blockchain Week, we wanted to reflect on how blockchain rose to prominence in the first place and explore its potential for disruption. It’s inarguable that the world has become more digital over the past two decades, leading us to the point today where a technology like blockchain is increasingly becoming necessary.
The internet in the mid-1990s connected the world to information. Web 2.0 in the 2000s began the process of democratizing the internet by allowing users to interact with each other and with content online. Then mobile and the cloud came along, which let users access and manipulate information anywhere, anytime. The Internet of Things added, well, things into the mix and let us control our world using our ubiquitous mobile devices. All the while, the amount of information that our devices have to process grew and grew until we needed something to keep track of it and keep it safe.
Blockchain was first introduced to the general public in Bitcoin, the much-hyped cryptocurrency, but its uses go far beyond that. Blockchain is the enabling technology behind Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies that ensures that transactions are secure.
It acts as a distributed ledger that links together encrypted batches of data (called “blocks”) and each time a transaction is recorded, the ledger updates automatically, spreading through peer-to-peer connections until consensus is achieved. The blockchain assures that no unauthorized changes make their way into the system.
Because blockchain is built with transparency, includes encryption as a core component and has no single point of failure, there is built-in protection from data tampering, which is especially important in an age where data breaches have become far too common.
The financial services industry is already being disrupted by blockchain. Goldman Sachs estimates that it could yield global savings of up to $6 billion per year for financial transaction processing through blockchain. But, there are a number of other ways that the blockchain may transform business, government and society.
Transactions, reputation systems and protecting intellectual property are a few use cases that can be valuable for various industries. Consider that the city of Dubai plans to leverage blockchain to make its government paperless by 2020 and it’s clear that, beyond grandiose ideas, there are practical problems that it solves, too.
The smart contracts that are enabled by it will lower the costs of creating and enforcing contracts, which has broad implications. Take the media industry, as one example, which already has innovative companies offering intelligent songs with built-in blockchain-enabled smart contracts that skip intermediaries and pay artists royalties immediately whenever a song is bought or played. In a similar way, it may enable sharing economy providers to sidestep platforms like Airbnb and Uber to band together in loose associations to meet the needs of consumers while keeping revenues to themselves.
The smart money is pouring in, with Amazon becoming the most recent player to enter the space, joining major technology companies like IBM, Microsoft and Oracle in fostering blockchain’s development.
It’s an exciting time to be in tech, as the blockchain has the potential to foster a decentralized and democratized internet where concerns about privacy, security and net neutrality become a relic of the past.
But, with that potential, comes an equal amount of hype – and not all of it deserved. That means that there are a lot of companies taking advantage of blockchain in their marketing by positioning themselves around it without offering any true value. In one of the most egregious examples, Long Island Iced Tea changed its name to Long Blockchain late last year and saw its stock subsequently soar.
In this still-early stage, blockchain companies will need to articulate what makes them different from the vast swathes of irreputable companies in order to build trust. And, with conversations about whether blockchain itself is meaningful, they will also have to contend with confusion in the market to establish a clear definition of its usefulness and a concrete value proposition.
Over time, like all of the hyped transformative technologies that came before it, the charlatans will be weeded out and winners will emerge. In the not too distant future, it won’t be enough to say that you’re a blockchain company to garner interest. You will have to show that a blockchain-powered solution has clear value for customers, users and other stakeholders.
It’s Blockchain Week here in Boston, and developers, researchers and students are gathering to explore the evolution of blockchain and cryptocurrency. With the blockchain technology market poised to grow from $600 million to $7.74 billion by 2024, we’re taking some time to think about how this technology might affect the communications industry.
Some of blockchain’s defining characteristics, like its decentralized nature, security and trustworthiness, make it a valuable tool for all of us in the communications world. Participants in the blockchain are able to tell where data comes from, so they can trust that it’s real. That functionality will be essential to restoring trust in all kinds of media.
As we deal with the continuing fallout from the era of ‘alternative facts’, blockchain news platforms are an intriguing way to combat misinformation and reinstate trust in media institutions.
Innovative blockchain news platforms are already looking to capitalize on this idea. The World News, the first blockchain-based news service, compiles a catalog of articles from various news sources and designates what’s ‘trusted’. Using neural networks and blockchain technology, The World News will document and verify any changes to stories. In essence, they’re fighting fake news and alternative facts by showing readers what they can actually trust.
Another blockchain platform, Decentralized News Network is built around incentivizing quality, peer-reviewed content over sensationalized, click-bait stories. Thanks to blockchain, the platform’s decentralized structure allows for a collaborative news environment, where the focus is on verifiable facts – something we could certainly use more of.
It’s not just about truth in the face of alternative facts, though. Decentralized blockchain news platforms are also uniquely positioned to protect the freedom of the press. Private and secure, yet verifiable and trustworthy, blockchain technology helps journalists publish important stories safely, while keeping their identity, data and sources private.
We’re also seeing journalists start to use blockchain to disseminate and verify images, something that’s especially useful when documenting atrocities, or disproving hoaxes. Because the location and date are recorded on the blockchain, there’s proof that a photo was taken at a certain time and location.
That functionality presents an interesting opportunity for the comms industry. We’re likely to see comms teams use blockchain to ensure the integrity of various types of content, like a CEO’s speech or an embargoed press release.
It’s also a way to build trust with consumers, by demonstrating that the stories you’re telling are true. A company might appeal to values-driven buyers by revealing the complete supply chain of a product. Consumers will know that the product they’re buying really is organic, or sustainably produced, for example.
Exaggeration and outright lies about products and services may soon be a thing of the past, with the side benefit of increasing consumers’ trust in businesses. This may go some way to challenging some of the negative perceptions of the PR industry as a whole, such as exaggeration and ‘spin’. As communicators, our expertise should be seen in the context of delivering the best possible true story to the right audience rather than as masters of manipulation.
We’re keeping a keen eye on other ways that blockchain innovations may disrupt the PR industry. Let’s keep the conversation going.
March helps disruptive technology brands – from blockchain to artificial intelligence to the internet of things – bring their innovations to life and inspire people to take action. Learn more about our tech PR services and approach.
Sound the alarm: We’re now just one month out from the enforcement date for the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Six years in the making, GDPR is widely considered to be one of the most comprehensive regulatory data protection developments the world has seen, with some rating it as more challenging to comply with than HIPAA.
Now that we’re a month away from GDPR becoming a reality, communications teams should revisit the topic and consider how best to share their story of compliance. It’s an excellent way to demonstrate their prowess, and you can read more about our perspectives on the communications opportunity for compliant or soon-to-be compliant businesses.
On the other side of the coin, it’s not far-fetched to assume that next month’s deadline may still be too close for comfort for some companies. And, with fines for non-compliance reaching beyond seven-figure sums, the mere prospect of missing the deadline is sure to be causing some serious headaches for those businesses.
So, how should companies facing non-compliance approach the difficult task of communicating bad news to their stakeholders?
Businesses struggling to comply with GDPR have enough challenges to worry about. Being accused of concealing bad news over regulatory compliance shouldn’t be one of them. If compliance is looking difficult, or impossible, ahead of May 25th, stakeholders are likely to find out about it whether the business wants them to or not.
Taking the first step and informing those stakeholders of an impending setback not only helps control the message, it also prevents against accusations that the company wasn’t upfront with those stakeholders on an issue of serious importance.
Then there’s the issue of timing. With just one month to go, companies should prepare to communicate this news sooner rather than later. If stakeholders have their own preparations to make, such as informing their own customers or putting a product deployment on hold, they will need to know as soon as possible. And, if the company does achieve compliance before May 25th, it will be seen as being prepared and open in its communications – a reputation-enhancer if there ever was one.
It’s not enough to just hold your hands up and admit that compliance by May 25th won’t happen. Stakeholders will be asking the question: If not now, when? And, like any problem, the anxiety it causes will only be worsened by the absence of a clear, structured solution.
When communicating to stakeholders about the potentially missed deadline, companies should also include some details around how and when they will reach compliance. Stakeholders don’t need every last detail, of course, but a high-level view of the remedy will go a long way in reinforcing their confidence that the business has a handle on the challenge and can be trusted to meet it.
When informing stakeholders of this difficult news, companies need to balance the need to reach as many of them as possible while not over-amplifying a negative story beyond the required audience.
A press release, then, is not the way to go – and neither is a jargon-filled paragraph buried in an unread ‘News’ page on the company website. Consider a succinct, informative blog or LinkedIn post, amplified to those key stakeholders via your most active social channels and supplemented by a dedicated email. Make the message crystal clear, and leave no room for ambiguity or doubt around it.
GDPR is undoubtedly one of the biggest data protection hurdles facing businesses in years, but communications teams can help ease the fallout of non-compliance. Honesty and clarity, as well as a clear path to compliance, will be key for businesses as they prepare to inform their stakeholders that May 25th may simply be too soon for them.
If you haven’t caught up on season one of HBO’s Westworld, it’s time to hunker down with a bowl of popcorn big enough for your binge-watching session and prepare yourself for a mental rollercoaster ride. Season two of this sci-fi/western thriller all about artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics airs this Sunday (April 22nd) – and as the true tech nerds we are, we couldn’t be more thrilled…or terrified.
As a tech junky and PR pro, there couldn’t be a better time to keep up with the hype around AI in the media – which makes Westworld all the more exciting to watch, as it pushes the limits on where this technology could be headed years down the road. Without giving away any spoilers, the season one finale felt akin to an episode of Black Mirror (another techie favorite) with robotics and AI technology gone wrong.
But despite pop-culture’s scarier, thrilling vision of AI, what’s important to remember is that this technology holds so much promise for applications across all industries. We’ve seen the retail and industrial sectors master AI and machine learning by leveraging these technologies to automate their processes in order to improve overall efficiency, reducing unplanned downtime in the industrial sector and improving customer experiences within retail. We’ve even seen the healthcare industry – which has been notoriously slow to adapt to new technology – explore AI to deliver better, more personalized care, particularly as the U.S market transitions to a value-based model.
Tech giants in particular know that AI is the future, which is probably why Google is offering a free online crash course in machine learning, citing that they “believe that the potential of machine learning is so vast that every technical person should learn machine learning fundamentals.” Interested in learning more about AI? Here is a list of free online courses being offered this year, ranging from basics around the principles of AI to advanced technical details around its implementation.
Now that you’re hyped about AI – its progress across industries today as well as its the unlocked potential in the future – it’s time to buckle up for the inevitable drama of Westworld’s widely anticipated second season. While wildly dramatized, it makes you wonder whether AI and robotics could one day lead to a future as depicted in Westworld.
Where do you see these technologies in five, 10 and 20 years – and better yet, how can we prepare for that future?
March helps brands in emerging industries – from artificial intelligence to virtual reality to the internet of things – bring their innovations to life and inspire people to take action. Learn more about our tech PR services and approach.
I remember when I was buying my first laptop (it was actually a netbook, if anyone remembers when those were hot on the scene). I was in the store and the salesman was really pushing the HP version, which was, of course, the most expensive one they carried. So, I asked him if I could have some time to play around with it. Then, on my potential new netbook, I Googled other netbooks and reviews – right there in the store! I felt so bad ass.
Fast forward some 10-15 years later, and this ingenious idea I had of checking others’ reviews before I made a purchase has become such a mainstay, that my bad ass feeling is downright laughable.
Today, we live in a review-based economy. Everything is reviewed – from the restaurants we eat in, to the BnB’s we sleep in, to the drivers we ride with and the passengers who ride with them! You’d be hard pressed to find a product or service today that doesn’t have direct customer or user feedback somewhere on the internet.
But, their pervasiveness isn’t the issue here. Reviews are increasingly influencing purchasing decisions. In fact, according to a recent study by Invespro, 90 percent of consumers read online reviews before even visiting a business, 72 percent will take action only after reading a positive review, and a single negative review can cost a business about 30 customers!
Learning how to navigate today’s review-based economy is paramount to businesses’ success. And, as PR becomes increasingly tied to sales and marketing, here are three ways PR firms can help.
Many PR firms help their clients run customer or partner programs to source testimonials, case studies, guest blog posts, or candidates for media and analyst briefings.
But, these programs do more than just generate content and a soundbite. They can often strengthen the business-customer relationship as a whole. Not only do customers often get something out of these programs – be it press coverage, content, SEO value, or what have you – but they also leave customers feeling valued and prioritized.
And, hopefully such programs can grow customer relationships to a point where you’d feel comfortable just outright asking them to review your product or business on Yelp, Google, etc. or technology-driven review sites like G2 Crowd, IT Central Station, Gartner Peer Insights and TrustRadius.
In most cases, the account manager would be the one to ask for the reviews. But, PR firms can help by putting together a template or tip sheet to guide the account managers to ensure they’re getting the most of their request (and even be able to leverage it for further PR efforts down the line).
Substantiating any product or service with quantitative facts helps give any company a credible edge – and data to back otherwise mostly qualitative reviews. It also gives existing customers reassurance that they made the right choice, and encourages prospects to make the same commitment.
We see this often with big consumer brands – especially those with well-known competition. Just take Verizon, for instance, and its study that proved Verizon iPhone owners don’t have as many dropped calls as AT&T iPhone owners.
But, there are ways to do this across any industry. Just last year, one of my clients, Continuum, who delivers IT solutions for MSPs, produced an independent study that found that Continuum’s partners are able to achieve greater profitability than other MSPs because of the company’s unique business model. Brilliant. Data, unique selling propositions and partner satisfaction delivered all together with credibility for the ultimate PR-able review.
PR firms can also contribute to positive reviews with strategic social media programs.
According to Statista, nearly 59% of American consumers engage with brands on social media platforms – sometimes up to three times a day. What’s more, nearly two-thirds of consumers who are satisfied with brand interactions over social media are likely to recommend that brand to others.
So, social media just upped its game in this review-based economy of ours. And, PR pros can help increase customer and partner engagement via social media, especially with enablement programs – and even tools.
Tools like GaggleAMP can be used to effectively empower audiences – meaningful audiences, from employees to partners to customers – to share content on social platforms using a central distribution channel. So, each time you get a positive piece of press coverage, for instance, sharing it via GaggleAMP can encourage others to also share it and increase that positive social buzz!
Whether through customer programs, quantitative research, social media or otherwise, PR firms can do a lot for brands to elevate their (hopefully positive) review presence. But, the one big no no is to have your PR firm post their own client reviews.
This crosses an ethical boundary and infringes on the trust buyers place in the review system as a whole. After all, the point of reviews is that they come from real users, sharing real experiences and feedback.
While these tips are helpful, they’re just the tip of the iceberg. What PR strategies or programs have you found to help companies navigate the review-based economy?
This article was first published on Muck Rack here.
It’s the season of roses, chocolates, teddy bears and romance. Yes, Valentine’s Day is here at last, which means everyone has just one thing on their mind: tech PR.
The rush of working a client event. The feeling of getting a great piece of coverage. The thrill of winning a big award for a campaign. The excitement when you manage to get your industry keyword into the first 100 words of a blog post about Valentine’s Day.
There’s a lot to love about our work, so we figured that, in celebration of the season, we’d ask folks around the March office to share the moments that warmed their hearts. Here’s what they had to say:
“It’s nice when a client contact gets excited about your work. But, it’s even cooler when someone at the company who doesn’t work in the marketing department is excited about coverage and feels proud to work at their company because of all the buzz a product or initiative that they worked on, and that March helped to promote, is getting,” – Steph Jackman, Account Supervisor
“I love most everything about working in PR; but, working in tech, I most love being on the cutting edge of new innovations. When we’re introduced to a new client or prospect, and get the chance to learn about how they’re going to disrupt the way we work, live or play, that’s when I think, ‘wow, my job is so cool!’” – Meredith L. Eaton, Vice President
“I love that no two days are ever the same when it comes to social media. Whether it’s changing trends or platforms, there is always something new to learn. I also love being able to tell stories through social media. Engaging with audiences in real-time makes the storytelling aspect of our jobs as Communications professionals very real.” – Caroline Black, Director of Digital Strategy
“It’s the best feeling in the world when I finally stop agonizing over word choice, hit “publish” and I start seeing the RTs, Likes and comments roll in” – Samantha Hird, Senior Account Executive
“I love that PR is constantly evolving. Every single day is different and inspiring!” – Cheryl Gale, Managing Director
It’s that time of year again when PR pros are making predictions for the New Year and revisiting the death of the press release, the need for more creative media relations as newsrooms continue to thin out, why paid practices are a must have, the rise of influencer marketing, an increased focus on content distribution, and how new measurement tactics will help redefine ROI for PR.
Take your pick – these predictions, among other tried-and-true trends, seem to resurface every year. And, they’re not wrong. In fact, many are quite exciting. But, for those – like me – who jump at the mention of new tech, the trend to watch for 2018 is the incorporation of AI (artificial intelligence), which I see playing a role in three main ways.
Just as with advancements in data science and machine learning, AI will help companies delve deeper into their target audiences to reach them on a more intelligent, personal level. With the ability to predict interests and uncover trends, companies – especially consumer brands – will be able to create more relevant products and services with the buyer experience front and center.
With this level of intel, PR pros can produce more sophisticated campaigns with relevant messaging that corresponds to various audience segments. PR and comms priorities can align with reality and adapt as markets change over time. Talk about ensuring the most bang for your buck!
A lot of day-to-day tasks that PR teams undertake are crucial to understanding the industry landscape, competitor activities and new trends, or to demonstrate the success of a campaign and establish benchmarks or records.
But, the amount of time spent on these types of tasks – including news scanning, media monitoring, coverage clipping, reporting and other similar endeavors – could be greatly reduced with the help of AI. There are already helpful services out there for such tasks, but many still require a lot of manual oversight or corrections since the intelligence just isn’t quite there yet for the tools to really know what’s relevant and what’s not.
This could all change with AI so that PR pros can get even more time back in their day and use their strategic brains for more creative campaigns and relationship building – the things that lead many of us to join the field in the first place!
When it comes to social interactions, human involvement is obvious. Or is it?
Chatbots are rising in ability and prevalence as major companies invest in the development. But, for PR, we need to think beyond today’s most common chatbots like Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa, and typical questions like, “What’s the weather today?”, to fathom a useful interaction that helps further PR goals of brand awareness and beyond.
AI advancements are helping create smarter chatbots that are paving the way for PR pros to help further conversations on behalf of brands in a relevant way.
The easiest place to imagine this is on social media where chatbots could interact intelligently with relevant hashtags, or respond to comments or direct messages on a company’s behalf. It’s just a matter of harnessing that level of machine integration in a strategic way to help expand PR efforts, which can focus on more of the human elements that bots can’t take over!
How do you think we’ll see AI impact PR in 2018?
This post was first published on Muck Rack here.
Tell me if this happens to you…because it happens to me all the time.
I’ll be scrolling through my news feed, or the homepage of the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, or what have you, and I’ll stop.
A headline will have caught my attention, and sometimes I’ll even say something aloud in disbelief (“No way!”, “Whaaat?”, “That can’t be.”) before clicking through to the article, only to find out that the title that solicited that gut reaction, isn’t actually a slant I would’ve assumed, or it doesn’t even correctly portray the situation at hand.
As media consumers, it can be difficult at times to understand whether what we’re reading is completely accurate.
It’s all too easy to be swayed by catchy headlines that try to elicit an emotional response, without knowing what to look for. That’s why education, notably the concept of media literacy, has been so important, and it’s become essential amid the rise of fake news.
To be fair, it’s a tall ask for anyone to be completely objective. Everyone, even journalists, comes at life with a unique perspective, which informs how we approach a topic or story. But, reporters are viewed as fact-finders and fact-distributors, so limiting bias is an important part of the job.
Yet, even seemingly harmless spin seems to slip into headlines and news reports.
Following the events of the 2016 election cycle, major news organizations have seen surging subscription numbers as weary media consumers sought out more reliable news sources. But, it’s important to understand that even these more reputable sources sometimes spin, or even sensationalize, the news. Do you know what to look for?
Take this Washington Post headline from late this summer, for example: “North Korean missile flies over Japan, escalating tensions and prompting an angry response from Tokyo.” The New York Times, however, reported the same story by saying, “North Korea Fires Missile Over Japan.”
Do you spot the difference? The first didn’t simply state the facts, but also included words designed to elicit an emotional response.
Or, consider this news story: The Cook County Board in Chicago recently voted to repeal a fledgling tax on sodas and sugary drinks. Reuters’ headline asserted, “Big Soda scores victory as Chicago-area tax repealed.” In contrast, the local Chicago Tribune simply stated, “Cook County Board repeals pop tax.”
Who is giving you the facts, and who is spinning the story to be a ‘win’ for one of the subjects?
How did news outlets handle the recent firing of Red Sox manager John Farrell? Sports Illustrated reported the facts: “Red Sox Fire Manager John Farrell,” while The Washington Post spun the story, saying that the “Red Sox’s back-to-back playoff exits, more than clubhouse issues, cost John Farrell his job.”
In a digital-focused world, newspapers are competing to attract readers, especially digital readers.
The rivalry between The Washington Post and The New York Times, for instance, has intensified as the two newspapers battle for the most recent scoop.
Reporting on breaking news surely helps draw readers and attention, but reporters must strive to keep their stories factual and ethical. But, since reporters at some media companies are incentivized based on how many clicks their stories get, and how much traffic they generate, it’s still a cause for concern.
Being a trustworthy source is one way news organizations can establish and maintain credibility. When news breaks, readers want to know that they can go to their trusted website or paper of choice for the most recent confirmed facts, and that it won’t be stoking fear or anger in hopes of drumming up more readership.
Give readers the facts, and trust them to draw their own conclusions.
This is an interesting conundrum for PR practitioners.
While we never condone “spin” in the old sense of intentionally altering the story to put forth a better image, we do try to provoke action. That action may be for a reporter to open our email pitch, or for a reader to download a whitepaper, or for publications to syndicate a press release, etc. etc.
But, do we need an emotionally-charged or sensationalized title to do that?
PR pros can likely cut down on unnecessary adjectives, descriptions and verbiage to get to the heart of the story that much faster, and with similar success. After all, how often have you written or read things like “industry first,” “next generation,” “disruptive,” or “cutting edge” without knowing what the story was really all about?
The facts and newsworthiness of the content will speak for themselves and hold just as much intrigue if they’re worthy, or not if they’re not. The readers and reporters that PR pros and their clients care most about won’t need headlines full of buzz words. If they are your true target audiences, they’ll be drawn to the topic or content for what it is.
We just need to get it in front of the right people, at the right time, in the right medium, and with the most compelling, fact-based language possible!
Piece of cake, right?
This piece was first published on Muck Rack Daily here.