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5 media relations trends

By Kim Harrison,

Consultant, Author and Principal of

In this commentary, Leyl Master Black, Managing Director of US agency Sparkpr, discusses media trends affecting public relations practice:

Social networks have taken on the role of crowd-sourced news editors. Instead of going directly to websites to scan for news, we frequently only see bite-sized news headlines that have been posted or re-tweeted by our trusted sources. When we do go directly to a site, we’re now relying more on news aggregators such as TechMeme, or getting the scoop on what’s trending from sites such as Tweetbeat.

Today, mobile devices are sparking another big shift in media infrastructure, with the iPad in particular set to become the centerpiece of media strategies for top print publications such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and USA Today.

In light of these evolving dynamics, what should savvy PR practitioners be thinking about as they’re building plans? Here are a few trends to watch:

1. Social sharing of news

We are likely to see more PR strategies that put social sharing at the forefront. News releases will have more attention-grabbing or controversial headlines to drive more re-tweets. We’ll see more pitches that seek to seed a contrarian view or spark controversy, both of which will have a better chance of being shared than straight news. There will be more aggressive outreach to influencers on Twitter to ask them to tweet about news, and more strategies to provide incentives to tweet or post to Facebook. And PR professionals will be under more pressure to measure program success using social sharing metrics.

2. Increase in ‘direct editorial’

As media companies overhaul their revenue models, many have moved beyond straightforward banner-style advertising to offer new types of content-driven ad experiences, sponsored content and creative syndication partnerships. This means that the need for content has never been greater. But with staffing levels still low, there will be even more opportunities for company execs to contribute their own thought leadership pieces and educational articles to prominent publications.

We can also expect to see more corporate blogging. While just a few years ago, many companies shied away from blogging because it was so difficult to promote the content and actually get people to read it, it’s now easier than ever to promote blog content to a targeted audience through social media. And, the shake-up in the media industry has produced a large number of talented freelance writers to support these efforts.

3. Greater demand for exclusives

With breaking news now posting almost instantly online, straight news coverage has become a commodity. When Facebook announces a redesign, you can expect to read similar stories about it on dozens of news sites the minute it hits. Many publications, as well as journalists, are now grappling with how to differentiate their coverage in this environment.

Also look for increasing value being placed on exclusives as a way for journalists to offer a differentiated and unique news product. As more publications request (and even require) exclusive content, reporters will be able to invest more time in doing a ‘deep dive’ for stories, and we are likely to see an increase in longer, more insightful pieces.

4. Growth in multimedia

Another point of differentiation for publications will be the use of use podcasts and video interviews to complement their print and online stories. Where appropriate, PR professionals should begin to build ideas for podcasts into their pitches to paint a more complete picture of how a story could be rolled out.

Video is also becoming a critical part of many news sites and an important asset for PR to provide to busy reporters, particularly as publications focus on creating visually rich content for devices such as the iPad. Expect to see more stories that include individual videos or even curated video in a slideshow or mosaic layout, such as this New York Times story about Tufts University applicants submitting YouTube videos as part of the application process.

5. Data, graphics and apps

Relevant stats have always been critical for validating trend stories, and with online survey tools making data gathering easier than ever, many PR pitches are now already accompanied by original research. With news outlets hungry for visuals but short on resources, look for the presentation of this data to become more sophisticated, with PR teams working to develop infographics and other visuals to make their data pop. And in our app-happy world, also expect to see a slew of interactive applications to supplement stories.

Source: Mashable.

About the Author

Kim Harrison is a recognized authority in the public relations field. His website,, provides a wealth of informative articles and resources on public relations techniques and management.


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