Archive for October, 2010
How PR Professionals Can Use Twitter to Pitch Newsworthy Stories
In March, I wrote about the phenomenon of people using Twitter during natural disasters to share updates and insights from the ground and let the world know that they are okay. It seems that more and more, we are turning to Twitter for the latest news and events around the world. As was recently announced by Twitter itself, Twitter is a place for information and news, not a social network.
We continue to hear the latest news via Twitter before traditional news outlets pick up the stories. Tools like TweetDeck and HootSuite allow us to follow the hashtags attached to these tweets to listen in on the entire conversation happening about that particular event. During the recent Discovery Building hostage situation, for example, the hashtags #discovery and #hostage were being used frequently, allowing people to monitor news as it unfolded.
Even public safety officials are using Twitter to stay on top of the latest developments. According to a story on CNN, “Heading off disaster, one tweet at a time,” Russ Johnson of the Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI) is trying to make information garnered from social media useful for first responders.
“Public safety officials are still trying to get their heads around social media. They are trying to catch up,” Johnson says. “What do you do when the social media knows more than you do?”
To help government officials, ESRI takes info from social media outlets like Twitter, Facebook and Flickr, and inputs the data onto maps for first responders.
“The data is really unstructured — when you wrap it around a map suddenly you have a micro and a macro view,” Johnson said. “All of a sudden social media is a really relevant piece of data that can increase situational awareness.”
We know that the public, first responders and journalists are using Twitter to learn about the latest breaking news happening in their area, but how can PR professionals use this to their advantage?
A lot of us use TweetDeck or HootSuite to search for our client’s names to monitor any conversations happening on Twitter, but we should also be looking at the latest trending topics and hashtags to follow breaking news as it happens. One way to stay on top of breaking news related to your clients is to set up searches on Twitter for general topic areas related to your client’s work. For example, set up a search for “mental health” and “health” in addition to your client’s name if their work is in the mental health field. While it may not catch all of the latest news, you may see a few tweets relating to a breaking story that you can start to follow.
We all know that one way to effectively pitch our client’s story to a journalist is to make a connection between what you have to say and a current topic or news event. This can instantly make your story more “newsworthy” and hopefully lead to the coverage that you and your client are looking for.
Right now there is no better source for breaking news then Twitter, and PR professionals should be using this to their advantage whenever possible. You should keep your tools for monitoring Twitter open all day and check it regularly because you never know when the perfect opportunity for your client will come up.
Why Millennials Will Make Social Media a Lifelong Habit
This guest blog post is by Leah Holmes-Bonilla, a Senior Account Supervisor and the Multicultural Services Manager at Vanguard Communications.
Ralph Waldo Emerson writes:
The highest compact we can make with our fellow is — “Let there be truth between us two forevermore.’”
Not so far off are beliefs and behaviors of Millennials as they continue to grow older and continue to share.
According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project report and other technology experts:
The Millennial generation will lead society into a new world of personal disclosure and information-sharing using new media. These experts said the communications patterns “digital natives” have already embraced through their use of social networking technology and other social technology tools will carry forward even as Millennials age, form families, and move up the economic ladder.
Rather than diminishing their interest and comfort in engaging in social media, Millennials will continue to share information. This somewhat flies in the face of traditional beliefs that we grow more conservative with age. This research suggests that Millennials continue to believe online sharing of personal information carries social benefits. I see it as grounded in some fundamental trust in social media to build friendships, form and find communities, seek help and build reputations.
What does this tell us about Millennials into the future? That they will continue to participate in social networking, and continue to avail themselves of new media technologies. As present day and future communicators, we need to keep pace with this tech-savvy audience. Remember that they trust in the medium, rendering it a great avenue for future communications.
Remember a few simple cues in your communications efforts: stay current with social media. Understand that constant communication and flexibility in communicating are also important. And finally, never be afraid to learn from your audience.
Changes at USA Today Herald New Era for Print Journalism
When USA Today launched in 1982, it heralded a new era for print journalism, featuring briefer articles and more colorful designs, photos and illustrations in newspapers. Twenty-eight years later, the second most widely read newspaper in the U.S. is changing the game again.
Recently, USA Today announced a reorganization of its newsroom, eliminating 130 jobs and restructuring how the paper will cover the news. The reorganization will shift USA Today’s emphasis towards its digital media operations to capitalize on readers’ interest in online and mobile content, reflected in the decline of the paper’s print sales.
USA Today’s predicament is shared by other papers on today’s newsstand. Since hard economic times sped the descent of print and advertising sales of national, regional and community newspapers, publications such as the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Detroit News and Detroit Free Press, and Charlotte Observer are also exploring new business models.
However, these new content strategies should give communicators some cause for concern. USA Today described its new arrangement as “a new way of doing business that aligns sales efforts with the content we produce.” Such close collaboration between editorial and sales departments will change what news is covered and how, making it even more difficult for hard-sell social issue stories to get published.
In 2006, The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press found that with the advent of online news content and 24/7 TV news cycles, the public’s newspaper section preferences were changing. According to the study:
Nine-in-ten people (91%) who say they often or sometimes read a newspaper spend at least some time on news about their city, town or region, but 88% say the same about national news stories, and 84% spend time reading international news.
Three sections of the newspaper have grown significantly more popular since 1985: business and financial news, news about religion, and articles about food, diet and cooking.
The study also discovered that younger readers, under the age of 30, expressed little interest in newspaper editorials and opinion pages, 35 percent either skip the editorial pages entirely or 17 percent just glance at
them. Only 15 percent of 18-29 year old readers spend time reading the op-eds.
So what do Pew’s revealing findings mean?
The statistics reinforce USA Today’s conclusions: the way people receive their news is changing. Readers no longer need to rely on morning newspapers for yesterday’s news. Instant access to real-time news and opinion on the Internet means they can follow today’s news right now. Also, it indicates new business opportunities for advertisers who are promoting products related to those content areas.
As a result of this trend, newspapers are responding and taking steps like USA Today to reorganize and develop new ways to deliver the news and capitalize on new sales markets. These changes will make it harder for communicators to get soft news pitches in print. However where there is a will, there’s a way. Just as newspaper publishers are discovering new ways to reengage readers, perhaps communicators should take heed, too, and find new ways for soft stories to be newsworthy…and marketable.
Ma Rainey: LGBT Blues Singer
LGBT Blues Singer
“You don’t sing to feel better. You sing ’cause that’s a way of understanding life.” —Ma Rainey
Ma Rainey was one of the earliest professional blues singers and one of the first women artists to record the blues. Her powerful yet raspy voice, unique melodic phrasing and trademark “moaning” style of singing earned her the title of “mother of the blues.” Rainey played a key role in meshing the less polished, male-dominated country blues with the smoother, female-concentrated urban blues of the 1920s.
Born Gertrude Pridgett on April 26, 1886, in Columbus, Georgia, Rainey began performing in her early teens. After she married Will Rainey, a fellow singer and entertainer, in 1904, she performed under the name “Ma Rainey.” The couple eventually formed their own group, Rainey and Rainey, Assassinators of the Blues. She was discovered by a producer at Paramount Records in 1923 and signed a recording contract with the company. Ma Rainey made more than 100 recordings during her five years at Paramount, and at various times, her band included jazz stars Louis Armstrong, Tommy Dorsey and Coleman Hawkins.
Although she was married to Pa Rainey, Ma Rainey was candid about her love of women, as is evident in her 1928 recording, “Prove It on Me Blues.” Today, Rainey is considered a woman of great courage for revealing her sexual orientation, as it was considered taboo during that era to speak of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) relations.
Rainey died of heart disease in 1939 at age 53. She was inducted into the Blues Foundation’s Blues Hall of Fame in 1983, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990 and the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in 1992. She was named one of Georgia’s Women of Achievement in 1993.