September 2011

I was fortunate enough to attend a Vancouver CPRS breakfast event where Gillian Shaw, Digital Life Reporter for the Vancouver Sun, spoke about what it is like to be a journalist in the age of social media. It was an excellent event – well run, interesting and I walked away feeling like I had learned something valuable. Gillian Shaw is an excellent speaker – full of knowledge, authentic and she gives the audience information, knowledge and her experience. She isn’t there to impress, she is there to share and provide insight. (Which means she ends up impressing.)



Gillian had a lot of insight into how the world is changing and how we as communications professionals can make the most of this. One of the areas that she talked about was the online newsroom. The online newsroom is a component, in my opinion, of brand journalism and it is a hugely effective tool for an organization.



We’ve all made use of (and in some cases still are using) media kits. Most of us have, at some point, created b-roll for media use and provided images on a disk. The online newsroom holds all of the information that would normally be in a media kit – and more. It allows your organization to become a “media outlet” on its own, because these days, you aren’t just informing and showcasing your news to journalists – you are making it available to all stakeholders online. An online newsroom can have interviews with key subjects about a topic (including industry and community leaders and other relevant individuals), it can provide a range of photos (for web and print usage), it provides facts and stats. It can provide editorial style articles, brief profiles, and industry overviews and “state of the industry” forecasts. And, as Ms. Shaw pointed out, some organization’s online newsrooms even provided suggested tweets about their organization. I have to admit that when she first said that, I was skeptical – but the more I thought about it, if the tweets are accurate, interesting and aren’t self-promotional, I don’t see why not.



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AHA - Social Media
We have had several new business meetings over the past week or so and the discussion always turns to what the organization can be doing in regard to social media.



Not everyone is ready to leap into social media full throttle, but it is important to start the process of listening. See what people in your industry/area of expertise are doing online. Pay attention to the conversations that are happening. It’s a good first step into connecting with your specific community.



Have a critical look at your website. We often get clients calling and asking for a social media strategy and when we start the discussion of why they want to engage in social media, we ask about their website. Quite often, their site is stagnant and hasn’t been touched in a very long time. Your website is an important component of your online brand. How up-to-date is it? How relevant is it? Is there a way to make the content more current on a regular basis?



When clients want to begin to use social media tools as a part of their overall communications outreach, we often recommend starting out small, one step at a time – with a focus on doing it right. Below we have outlined four small actions you can take over the next two weeks to begin to include social media in your day-to-day work.



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When I read articles and blog posts that talk about the importance of targeting your media outreach, I often find myself wondering about PR people that don’t identify which news outlets, which journalists and which bloggers they hope to connect with. What’s the point in sending a news release out to a bunch of people that at best are just going to put it in the trash and at worst, are going to ignore your emails in the future?



When I was at Maclean’s, I saw a great deal of “junk” come in from PR people. In fact, I once had a tire (yes, a full sized, real tire) delivered to me from a company that wanted me to cover their new winter tire sale. First of all, I was an entertainment reporter and not only was this not newsworthy, it had nothing to do with what I covered. Additionally, Maclean’s would never cover this kind of story and finally, what good was this tire to anyone? In my opinion, it was a waste of time, effort and it was not environmentally friendly. I wonder how many tires they delivered that day…



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