9 Things to Know About the Future of Local News

I recently spoke to a group of business and community leaders about the future of local news. As a public relations professional, I’ve had a ringside seat on the ever-shrinking local news landscape. However, many leaders I’ve worked with in the private and public sectors tend to over-estimate how much scrutiny their bad or good news may attract, while others dismiss the need to actively participate in local media interview requests and reserve their time and energies for national opportunities or what they know will be a puff piece.

My goal was to help these leaders understand the trends shaping the local media landscape so that they could better reach their constituents and stakeholders through earned media as well as via alternate approaches, given local media’s shrinking influence.

Here are nine fast facts with tips for business and organization leaders:

1. The Future of Local News Is Subscriptions, Not Advertising

Print and digital circulation numbers for local newspapers have been consistently falling (from 13.9 million to 8.3 million between 2015 and 2020), but stabilized in 2020. The decline has reduced ad revenue, disrupting the old advertising-driven publishing model.

Another trend started in 2020. For the first time, circulation revenue from subscriptions drove more revenue than both print and digital ad revenue for local print publications and their digital assets. That’s a commentary on how far ad revenue has fallen. And it’s why you’ve been seeing more online publications behind paywalls, as digital subscriptions are often called.

TIP: The Free Press is Worth Paying For.

→ Your organization’s news needs to be interesting enough for people to pay for. Focus on what’s in it for the reader or viewer. How are you helping serve the interests of local news consumers vs. the needs of your organization?

2. Future of Local News Will Serve the Informed Public

Fewer and fewer people are consuming local news across all sources. Only about one in three U.S. adults even follows local news at all.

For journalists and public relations agencies like (W)right On Communications, credibility and reach with the informed public (the one in three people paying attention) are still vital. If you’re a local news subscriber, then consider yourself a member of the informed public.

As someone who is more engaged in your community than most of your neighbors, you’re an important target of our communications and news reporting. You’re more likely to vote (hopefully), show up at city hall, trial or recommend new products and places and understand how your daily behaviors impact your environment.

As subscriptions become the backbone of the local news business, leaders can use earned media to target the most informed and engage constituents in their local markets.

TIP: Reach the Disengaged through Entertainment + Enchantment

→ If you can’t reach people with facts and information, entertain with emotion and be memorable with story. Find and share what makes your story moving and provide local media with assets (b-roll, photos, characters and heroes) to bring it to life.

3. The Future of Local News is Digital with Limited Reach

One of the steadfast rules of marketing is meeting your audience where they are. Current data suggests 84% of U.S. adults get their information from their digital device like smartphone, computer or tablet. Half do so often.

News websites and news apps were cited by two-thirds of adults. But 25% of people still rarely or never use such sources. This 25% also don’t use search engines or frankly any other digital source. They may be getting their information from social media, which recent studies have shown misinforms: people who relied on social media for their news were less engaged and less knowledgeable.

During the pandemic, this was a real problem. A very large number of people had no idea what was going on. You’d find people not wearing masks because they had no idea that there was a mask mandate and later had no idea when it had been lifted. Even when their family’s health and life are on the line, they’re not tuning in to the news of the day via any platform.

TIP: Share Your Coverage on Social and Boost

→ When you’ve got a news story you want everyone to see or read, share it on social and boost it with a small investment to the audience you might have missed.

4. The Future of Local News On Social is YouTube

Social media as a news source shrank a bit this past year. It’s still the third most used platform for news, cited by 48% of people as a frequent news source. Facebook, YouTube and Twitter were the three most popular networks for news.

For leaders considering reaching constituents and stakeholders with their news via social media, YouTube is a platform deserving of a second look. YouTube users stream news about subjects they’re interested in as they ‘cut the cord’ from their cable providers. As the second largest search engine (and owned by Google), YouTube provides “news” on an endless breadth of subjects on demand — from foreign language to gamer news to regular streaming newscasts and segments. Local TV news stations have their own YouTube stations.

TIP: Consider Producing Your Own YouTube News Content.

→ Seeing is believing and YouTube allows for longer format reporting that can be teased or promoted on other social apps like Instagram and Facebook Stories, Twitter, Snapchat or TikTok.

5. The Future of Local News is Podcasting

The percentage of people who get their news from podcasts is growing every so slightly every year. While a few people say that they never listen to podcasts, what’s noteworthy about those who do listen is that they skew younger. Sixty-two percent of 18 to 49-year-olds report listening to podcasts for news sometimes or often. And rates are also higher among more educated and affluent listeners.

Leaders need to make time for podcast interviews to reach younger, more education and affluent members of the informed public. Podcasts are a great channel to reach these important audiences.

TIP: Embrace Podcasts to Reach Younger, Affluent Audiences

→ Not only are podcast audiences growing, but podcast interviews have been discoverable on Google since 2019 and, unlike radio interviews, can have a reach that grows over time.

6. The Future of Local News Is Nonprofit

As local journalism gets vastly outspent by Big Tech, ad revenue shrinks and the size of the uninformed public grows, is it any wonder that a dozen new nonprofit newsrooms launch every year?

Nonprofit models remove the profit imperative and allow newsrooms to be funded through grants, donations and subscriptions or memberships. Some great reporting is coming out of nonprofit newsrooms.

Individual citizens can support local nonprofit news organizations through monthly contributions that are no more than a monthly subscription may run. Your local PBS affiliate has relied on donor support for decades.

TIP: Support a Nonprofit Local News Organization

→ Get involved as a donor or board member to help local nonprofit newsrooms flourish.

7. The Future of Local News is Greater Privacy Protections

Another major shift that’s just starting to be felt is Apple’s new privacy protections. When you’re online on IOS devices, Apple no longer allows advertisers to embed cookies and use their website pixels to track your behaviors and market their goods to you.

This has had an immediate and very significant impact on Facebook’s fortunes. Facebook took a $10 billion revenue hit as digital advertisers scaled back. It’s a positive development to me as a communicator because digital marketing had become so transactional. It’s a reminder to leaders not to focus on click-through rates at the expense of relationship and trust building.

TIP: Build Trust Through PR to Support Digital Transactions

→ Build trust and credibility through strategic communications before you ask for the sale. That’s the secret to higher closing rates. And your consumers are looking for trust and credibility signals before they buy.

8. The Future of Local News is User Generated

Technically, anyone with a camera-equipped smart phone is “the media” as well as anyone with an audience is “the media.” Influencers and eyewitness videos can shape opinions and drive awareness just as powerfully as a mainstream, top tier local media outlet.

Newsroom cutbacks mean journalists are more likely assigned to multiple beats and assignments every day. So, leaders cannot expect them to come into interviews with much knowledge or understanding and, therefore, must work hard to bring them up to speed so that they can accurately report on their news.

The right influencer or content creator with a niche following and deep familiarity and passion for your topic may move the needle with the people that matter more than highly respected and accomplished media outlets or journalists.

TIP: Find Niche Content Creators to Reach New Audiences

→ Find the right influencer or content creator to reach niche audiences with your messages. But be ready to pay for that content and access while also giving them control over how your story is packaged.

9. The Future of Local News is Building Trust

Released in January at Davos every year for the past 22 years, the Edelman Trust Barometer tracks trust in business, government, media and NGOs. This year’s theme was “A Cycle of Distrust” which the authors say was fueled by the government and media industries.

Democracy is built on trust. As government leaders vie for votes and media outlets vie for clicks and viewers, the public is left feeling anxious. They’re looking to NGOs and businesses to take the lead on societal issues. Like Apple did on privacy or like Nordstrom, Sephora and Macy’s did with the 15 Percent Pledge to make 15% of their retail shelf space available to black-owned brands. Other examples include the businesses that exited Russia after its invasion of Ukraine and Ernst and Young’s R U OK program to help employees with mental health and addiction issues.

At the World Economic Forum, the new rallying cry in response to this cycle of distrust has become an emphasis on a new model of Stakeholder Capitalism to replace decades of Shareholder Capitalism. Under the old model, the company was put at the center, and everything served the business. It was a profit-centered model. The new model puts the wellbeing of people and planet at the center of a business.

TIP: Restoring Trust Starts Locally.

→ From local news to city council to school boards, focus on restoring trust and respect in your backyard. A healthy local news media supports an informed and engaged public and a sense that we can trust our leaders to conduct themselves in the public’s best interests. 

→ Read my Q&A with Lynn Walsh of the Trusting News project to learn how the media is working to restore trust through more transparent reporting practices.

So, What Can You Do to Support Local Journalism and Break the Cycle of Distrust?

Subscribe to and support local news and nonprofit news. Encourage subscriptions amongst your coworkers, friends and family.

Professionally, take a more relational and less transactional approach to your communications. That means you start first with listening and understanding your stakeholders and their needs. Whether you’re reaching the informed public through the media or sharing your story through other means such as your website, email newsletter, social media, speaking opportunities, events or video, demonstrate empathy and frame and share stories in a way that matters to your stakeholders.

Most important, as a leader, make sure that your organization delivers on the expectations you set in your communications. That’s foundational to building trust.

Be realistic in the expectations you set. Be consistent in your communications and messages you deliver. Therefore, when things go wrong, your track record of empathy, transparency and consistency gives your brand or organization the best chance of an understanding and patient response from employees, customers, investors, donors and, of course, the media.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Julie Wright is President of (W)right On Communications, Inc., the award-winning integrated strategic communications firm she founded in 1998. With offices in San Diego, Los Angeles, and Vancouver, B.C., her team handles complex communications challenges for B2B tech, cleantech and energy, healthcare, tourism and hospitality, not-for-profit and public sector organizations. Wright and her team elevate the agency experience through data-driven insights and measurable results for client partners.

Cleantech Public Relations Tips

Cleantech public relations graphic design sample

We count ourselves lucky to support climate and energy innovators with cleantech public relations. These sustainability superheroes are difference makers changing our world for the better, but no matter how ground-breaking their solutions, it doesn’t mean anything if their target customer doesn’t know about them or the industry doesn’t understand what they’ve achieved.  

Here are some tips to ensure a successful cleantech public relations program. 

 

1. Understand how you fit in the marketplace.  

Sustainability solutions are coming to market fast, thankfully, but it means that at the top of a cleantech company’s to-do-list is being perfectly clear about your position in the broader space.  

Too often, I see a new cleantech company overestimating its standing and importance. It’s understandable when you’re launching a big new idea or game-changing tech. But only one in every thousand start-ups may end up being the next Tesla. So, for the vast majority of new companies, differentiating yourself and communicating your value proposition are crucial right out of the gate.  

This means you must think broadly about who your real competitors are. You’re competing against more alternatives than you may realize. Take Uber, for example. It’s easy to think of Uber’s competitors as just Lyft and taxi services. But even as Uber was spearheading the ride-sharing wave, it had to compete against taxis, walking, biking, or just driving yourself.  

If you’re creating a category and trying to teach your B2B or B2C target customers to adopt a new, more sustainable practice or behavior or spend money to save money and greenhouse gasses, you need to start at the 50,000-foot view before you focus your messaging on your brand and its specific value and contributions.  

2. Build a strong platform before you launch.  

After you’ve fully plotted your place in the market and how to position yourself against all of the alternatives, it’s time to carve out your niche.  

World domination is a lofty goal right out the gate, so before you set your sights on being the President of the United States, make sure you’ve got the platform in place. Assess your strengths so your messaging can amplify them and address your weaknesses to mitigate them before turning your attention outward and inviting the world’s attention.  

Is your core technology the best it can be? If so, what are the barriers to adoption? Do you have partners lined up who send clear credibility signals? Is there white paper content or published research that validates you’re proposing more than just greenwashing?  

Is a content strategy in place so that you have a clear search engine position for the solution you want to be known for? Is your social media engagement building some momentum and community around your ideas and your technology to demonstrate that people care?  

 

3. Don’t be the one to change the world.  

Every new cleantech company seems to emerge on the scene with grandiose claims of revolutionizing the way the world does things. It’s wiser to let your portfolio speak for itself. 

The goal here is to under-promise and over-deliver. This is an industry with a lot of noise and skepticism is rife.  

For instance, say you’re introducing a new home-heating system that uses renewable energy and decreases heating costs by 5%. Will you market on the fact that your tech will change how homes are heated forever, that it’s 5% cheaper or some combination of both?  

When your cleantech public relations strategy leads with the cost-savings message and provides your green cred for context, your brand will more likely stay afloat and avoid drowning in the sea of hyperbole in this industry.  

In other words, your sustainable business model is as essential to your cleantech public relations program as your environmental impact. 

 

4. Adapt your story for different media audiences.  

Be prepared for your media interviews. At some point in your company’s evolution, and if you’re fortunate enough, you’ll be sitting down with many different journalists.  

Be aware of who you’re speaking with and the audience they represent so that you can adapt your responses. You wouldn’t speak on the intricacies of your thermal engineering operation with a Buzzfeed reporter, and you don’t want to insult a seasoned tech reporter’s intelligence.  

Revisit our best media training tips. A good understanding of your interviewer’s credentials and a well-developed plan of action for your interview will help you effectively communicate no matter who sits in the other seat. 

If your solution is complex or technical, we recommend you also start all of your interviews by asking the reporter what they already know about your area of expertise. That way, you can provide an overview of the environmental issue your solution addresses before you get into its nuts and bolts. You’d be surprised sometimes how little a reporter might know, and if you’re not careful, you’ll be talking over their head and then be unhappy with the published result.  

You might be tired of repeating the same datapoints or explanations and feel like it’s old news.  But you’ve got to assess your audience’s knowledge and interest and then meet them where they’re at. Asking those probing questions first – or having your cleantech public relations agency do it for you as part of your pre-interview briefing – is always a sound practice! 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Julie Wright is President of (W)right On Communications, Inc., the award-winning integrated strategic communications firm she founded in 1998. With offices in San Diego, Los Angeles, and Vancouver, B.C., her team handles complex communications challenges for B2B tech, cleantech and energy, healthcare, tourism and hospitality, not-for-profit and public sector organizations. Wright and her team elevate the agency experience through data-driven insights and measurable results for client partners.

Crafting An Authentic Personal Brand

Turning an authentic personal brand to eleven!

Everyone has a personal brand, whether they work at cultivating it or not. It’s worth it to spend some time thinking about your own and how to be more intentional about crafting an authentic personal brand for your professional self. 

I recently joined Henry DeVries, Forbes columnist, author and founder of Indie Books International, on his podcast to talk about personal branding, especially for people sharing their expertise as authors. But the advice applies to everyone at every stage of their careers.

Why Work at an Authentic Personal Brand?

Crafting an authentic personal brand can help advance your career and professional goals, build your business and expand your network. Who doesn’t want that for themselves? There are a few key steps to success.

First is identifying your assets. Start with your product and service or its features and benefits. The point is to make sure your brand is marketable. Next, think about your most unique characteristics. What is it that your family, friends and coworkers say about you? What are your natural or standout characteristics?

The idea here is to differentiate yourself from others by emphasizing the things that really make you who you are. Maybe you’re boisterous and irreverent or especially thoughtful and kind.

Whatever your unique identifiers are, they must connect with your target audience on an emotional level. If they don’t, it’s not really a brand. A brand has to evoke a feeling in others and that’s what you’re aspiring to do by cultivating yours.

Your Personal Brand is an Exaggerated Version of Who You Really Are

The secret behind the most powerful personal brands on the planet is the emotional connection the make. You can get there, but you need to be willing to take your special, authentic characteristics and turn them up to ‘11.’

Consider some of the best-known personal brands: Howard Stern, Elon Musk, and Oprah Winfrey. What do you think of when you hear these names? And, most important, what do you feel?

  • Stern is the totally outrageous yet neurotic shock jock. The outrageousness is his “it” factor. Combined with his vulnerability, he becomes relatable. It’s a magical combination, and totally authentic.
  • Musk is the eccentric technology mogul. He’s taken the idea of disruptor to the extreme in his professional and personal life. 
  • Winfrey is the media powerhouse who’s famous for her extreme generosity as well as her down- to-earth persona, which works despite her fame and fortune.

When your brand is based on who you really are, it’s sustainable. Personal brands that are based on a fiction fail. Many a PR scandal has broken when someone’s personal brand has proven false. 

An authentic personal brand can take a setback. Just look at style maven and homemaker extraordinaire Martha Stewart who came out of prison and teamed up with Snoop Dogg to resurrect her brand.

How Can You Make Your Personal Brand Stick?

So, you know what makes you stand out and how to maximize your personality capital. Now it’s time to come up with your origin story. Your parents might not have been gunned down in an alley and, to my knowledge, no one has ever been bitten by a radioactive spider but that doesn’t mean you don’t have a compelling story to tell. How did your core characteristic(s) evolve? What key events built the pillars of your personality? This is your opportunity to further develop your public persona into something that makes people want to turn the page.

Your origin story is something you need to tell again and again and on every media platform: earned, owned, shared and paid.

Earned media is when your story is told by others. This is the most credible source for your audience and the most valuable for building your brand. Owned media is when you tell the story. This includes your website, newsletter, webinars, video and other assets. This is where you have the most control over the narrative. Social media is how you engage people with your brand. It’s a great place to grow your audience and cultivate the vibe your story lends itself to. Paid media is the last, and least credible, platform but it has potential to reach the most people, depending on your budget, and the ability to target the audience that your message reaches with tremendous precision. 

Proper use of the right media channels is the secret sauce of a successful marketing strategy.

Your Brand is Built Upon Your Behaviors 

Lastly, think beyond marketing copy and brochures. Think about how people experience you. That’s a personal branding opportunity. Maybe it’s how you sign off your emails, how you greet people or what appears in your Zoom background. Simple things. Or it could be more lavish and require a financial investment like an annual fundraising event you host or the furniture and art in your lobby.

People’s beliefs are formed by their experiences. So, make sure that your behaviors are consistent with the brand you’re trying to cultivate. As a career public relations consultant, I assure you that walking the talk is the most important thing you can do to create and maintain your personal brand. As Warren Buffet famously said, it takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. 

Build your reputation faster through personal brand activations. If that sounds like jargon, here are some examples of what I mean by that.

One of my professional colleagues has a strong personal brand. I would describe hers as an otherworldly passion for public relations and developing excellence in the next generation of communicators (good thing she’s an educator!) with a healthy dose of aloha spirit. One of the ways she consistently brings her personal brand to life is in her thank you notes. She never misses an opportunity to pen one when she feels someone has helped our her or her students. She also instills that as a best practice in her students. As a result, when she calls on her colleagues for help, we’re all absolutely willing to jump in because we know she appreciates  anyone who takes a moment to share their passion with her, her program and her students or alumni.

Another example is a young student who graduated from her program, as a matter of fact. We met for an information interview, and I kept an eye on her career, noting that wherever she appeared online, she had a flower in her hair. It stuck with me and helped me to remember her. Now, when I describe the flower to anyone who has met this gal, they know exactly who I’m talking about! As someone just starting out, she didn’t necessarily have a calling card or a proven characteristic she knew was marketable, so she created one. Nice.

Crafting your authentic personal brand is a worthwhile exercise. While we can’t all take ours to the exaggerated extremes of the celebrity examples I mentioned, it does require dialing yourself up to 11 if you want to stand out from the pack.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Julie Wright is President of (W)right On Communications, Inc., the award-winning integrated strategic communications firm she founded in 1998. With offices in San Diego, Los Angeles, and Vancouver, B.C., her team handles complex communications challenges for B2B tech, cleantech and energy, healthcare, tourism and hospitality, not-for-profit and public sector organizations. Wright and her team elevate the agency experience through data-driven insights and measurable results for client partners.

Influencer 101: A guideline for influencer marketing campaigns

Social media post example of influencer marketing

More often than not, businesses and brands are turning to social media influencers to help spread their messages, gain awareness, and win over the masses. These pay-for-play personalities make it their jobs (literally) to make you happy and can change the way your business engages and interacts with potential customers. Successful social media campaigns must be a comprehensive mix of your personalized voice, authentic engagement, worthy visualsbranded and topical posts, and now influencer content. 

Relevant influencer content is great, but not all influencers create equal content. Here are some tips and tactics on what to look for when selecting the right influencer to meet your marketing goals.  

Create Campaign Goals & Targets  

Having a clear idea of your must-haves, required stats, and overall influencer objectives will help you understand the type of influencer you need and can keep you on track if you get overwhelmedNot everyone will be a fit, and it’s important to be particular.  

It will help to have campaign “must-haves” in place to help narrow down the sea of options at your fingertips. Are you looking for influencers in a particular geographic location? Do they meet your minimum follower counts and data markers? This could even be something as specific as what university they attend. 

If your campaign plans to use both paid and unpaid influencers, what are your musthave stats for both categories? Creating a list of influencer and campaign goals at the very beginning of your search will save you invaluable time.  

Find Your Influencer 

Though there might be a plethora of “perfect” people to choose from, finding the right influencer for your brand can be harder than you expect. There are numerous online tools and databases that can help you plug in requirements to find potential influencers. However, depending on the size of your company, brand or campaign, and therefore your budget, paying for influencer vetting software might not be an option. 

Even if you opt for one of these services, you may find yourself having to do additional vetting, as there is no software that can tell you that an influencer’s vibe and esthetic matches what you are looking for.  

If you are trying to build brand loyalty, then you will want to focus on influencers in the same genre as your brand. However, if you are trying to expand your brand awareness and build your audience, then trying out influencers within different categories will be important. For instance, a travel brand might seek out a lifestyle influencer to expand brand awareness by targeting yoga enthusiasts. Or a clothing brand might target a high-end fashion influencer to cement their brand’s reputation as trend setters in the fashion industry. 

One free yet timeconsuming way to find the right influencers for your campaign is by doing a simple search. Google is your best friend. A search for “top lifestyle influencers” delivers almost 24 million search results; each writer has a different opinion and has decided on the best influencers by looking through their own individual vetting lensesEach blog or article will have its best choices represented, so look at a few on a couple of lists to see which writer’s vision you most identify with. You may even find that there are influencers that are represented on multiple lists!  

There is a blog for every topic and an excess of writers to choose from. Another search that is helpful will be “top ____ blogs.” You will be hard pressed to find a blog that isn’t also tied to that blog’s specific social world. Depending on what you are looking for, and if you have the budget to support it, securing an influencer with a blog has its own benefits.  

Create Your Wish List 

You may feel overwhelmed by the large number of influencers to choose from. Staying organized and listing your favorites will be helpful, because this is where the real work and in-depth research begins. An easy place to start is with your must-haves and data dealbreakers. Look at their social sites and review their follower counts. This is an easy way to shorten your list.  

With that said, if you feel there is an influencer with amazing pictures, great content, and good engagement, but who doesn’t meet your minimum numbers, don’t discount them yet. You may find you have to readjust or re-evaluate your goals as you go along, especially if you have a very specific demographic. At the very least, these particular influencers might be a great way to get some free user-generated content that you can share on your own social channels.  

Vet Your Targets Against Your Criteria 

Another easy way to cut down your list is to consider the demographics and psychographics of the influencers you are vetting. Now that you have your list, it comes down to whether they represent who you are. 

Are they the right age, gender, geographic location, or does that matter? What are their interests and motivations and do those align with your product or brand values? Do they have previous sponsored content on their page?  

By looking through various influencer’s platforms, you will eventually get an idea of what you are looking for, whether that is a certain esthetic or something that will resonate with your already loyal following. Read their posts and study their digital habits; a simple “vibe check” can go a long way.  

More important questions to ask yourself: 

  • Are they relevant to your topics or brand? 
  • What is their credibility to products in your category? 
  • What is their sponsored engagement rate vs overall engagement rate? The only one that matters is sponsored engagement. 

There are currently over 570 million blogs out there and 86% of content makers use them, so it is more likely than not that your influencer will have this additional platform for you to utilize. With blogs I suggest looking at the esthetic and vibe. Does it look like someone threw together pictures of their family vacation on a WordPress template, or are there nicely organized sections and tabs to filter their content?  

Many blogs will offer media kits with extra information about their audience, previous branding sponsorships or partnerships, or how many subscribers they have to their newsletters. It is worth noting that previous sponsorships are great, but it will be important to ask what the success rate of that partnership was. Did they just make pretty pictures, or did they increase followers and sell product? 

It will also be helpful to know the blog’s unique visitors per month (UVPM) and domain authority (DA). These could also be featured on the blog. The DA is a search engine ranking score that is a measure of the site’s relevance to a subject area or industry and shows how successful a site is based upon search engine results. Generally anything over 50 is considered good. You can get this free overview of search engine performance from a software development company called Moz 

Influencer Budget and Negotiations 

You have your list, yay! Now it is actually time to reach out to your chosen influencers. After all of that time you spent on finding and vetting them, you want them to be a right fit and they want to be a right fit too.  

Just like your own “deal-breakers,” your budget may narrow down your list even further. Determining which one will offer the right results to fit your campaign will come down to feel and your marketing budget.  

Price tends to go up with the number of followers. If a blog post and newsletter mailing is part of your deal, the price can go even further. You may want to use paid influencers, unpaid influencers or both, depending on your budget and size of your campaign.  

Do some research online to find an example of the approximate influencer pricing for various types of campaigns. Many influencers who are trying to gain followers and popularity will work in exchange for product/experience, or whatever it is you are promoting. You can always ask them to do it for tradethe worst they can say is no.   

Online research should reveal the approximate influencer pricing for various types of campaign participation.

You’ve signed a contractnow what? 

Many times, companies will want a firm list of deliverables from their influencer. It is definitely okay to have a must-have shot list. If there is something you would like to feature, a certain product demonstrated, or event highlightedtell them. You are paying and they want you to be successful because it helps them to have successful content. 

Do nothowever, script their entire campaign. Give them creative prompts but not exact messages. Provide the message and vibe you are trying to communicate, but also give them some control and let them play to their strengths. They know their audience and what they will respond to, so work with them to decide the look of the posts and then let them do what they do best. Together, you may even go viral! 

Influencer marketing may not be right for every brand, but we find it to be an influential tool for brand awareness on specific campaigns. With a little time, clear idea of what you are looking for, the right tools for searching, vetting criteria and a contract in place, hiring the right influencers combined with unique and relevant curated content will help create a fully integrated marketing campaign.  

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Corie is a Communications Strategist with Wright On Communications. With more than 10 years of experience in prior marketing roles in the Santa Barbara and Los Angeles markets, Corie supports the (W)right On team in multi-channel digital marketing, client relations management, social media, copywriting and copyediting, research and analytics, media pitching and more.

Four Reasons Publicist is a Dirty Word

 

By Julie Wright —President
Twitter: @juliewright


Has your mom ever used your childhood nickname in front of your adult friends? That’s how I feel when someone uses the term publicist or publicity to describe my work.

Generating positive media coverage is definitely among the many functions performed by a public relations professional. But the word “publicist” says nothing of the research, strategy, messaging and many other thoughtful, and even artful, activities that go into a successful public relations program. The word, in my opinion, minimizes my work.

For that reason, I would like to see “publicist” buried next to “flack” and “spin doctor.”

Public relations professionals are strategic communicators.

Two years ago, PRSA’s 2017 Chair, Jane Dvorak, addressed the PRSA Western District Conference in Riverside, Calif. urging attendees to see themselves as leaders, strategists and analysts. To my ear, “publicist” is a label that says none of those things. Two years later, I continue to hear this term applied to describe work that is only about 10-20 percent producing media coverage.

If you’re not convinced that “publicist” needs to go, give these four points careful consideration, and let me know if they help change your thinking. (If you already agree, these may help you convert or at least educate others.)

1. Publicists Produce Transactions. PR Pros Build Relationships.

We work in a very transactional environment today. Marketing and communications outcomes are boiled down to clicks, likes, links and conversions, but the stakeholders who need to receive your messages are not clicks and conversions—they’re real human beings who crave meaningful emotional connections with other real human beings.

This absolutely includes journalists.

Media databases like Cision and Meltwater make it much easier to build a big list than a targeted one. Journalists become email addresses and not people. Instead of building a relationship with the media, this transactional approach plays a numbers game. Ultimately, when the media gripes about getting a PR pitch addressed to the wrong name or that’s a country mile off the mark, it’s because they’re not being communicated to as human beings.

Public relations requires building understanding, changing perceptions and motivating behaviors and beliefs. Those kinds of outcomes need a relational versus transactional approach, which requires understanding your audiences and treating them as humans. This can be accomplished through surveys, interviews and focus groups and using that information to create personas.

Publicity is just too limiting a term to encompass these approaches.

2. Publicity is a Tactic. Public Relations Requires Strategy.

As public relations professionals, we can’t fulfill our role and responsibilities with a tactical mindset. We must think strategically.

From research to message development and testing to creative—strategy drives the choices we make, and those choices drive our campaign results. Did we communicate in a manner that earned our audience’s attention and resonated with them so that their perceptions, beliefs and behaviors were impacted?

I equate publicity with none of the above. Instead, I picture someone producing a bunch of press clippings which is useful if stroking your client’s ego is the only goal of your campaign.

3. A Publicist’s Communication is One-Way. PR Requires Listening.

There is far more pitching, posting and publishing than listening on social media and the web these days. I like the term coined by Mark Schaefer five years ago, Content Shock, to sum up the impact of content marketing run rampant. Schaefer pointed out then how the pace and volume of content being produced far exceeded the pace and volume of content being consumed.

Anyone today who is pushing content or a message without creating a way for the recipient to engage, respond and be heard is missing a huge opportunity to build relationships.

Communicators who create space for their stakeholders to be heard are the ones doing it right. When a crisis hits, they’ll be able to engage in conversations with their customers or investors rather than an avalanche of angry or outraged Tweets and Facebook posts.

The brands that weather crises more easily than others are those that have built relationships and goodwill with their stakeholders. And those are the brands being stewarded by strategic communicators and not publicists.

4. Publicity is About Earned Media. Public Relations Crosses All Media.

A decade ago, traditional media outlets underwent an implosion, while podcasts, online videos, blogs and social media storytelling platforms exploded. In the aftermath of these two trends, traditional media gatekeepers like the daily newspaper or evening newscast have lost their ability to influence public perception at scale.

Earned media was once the bread and butter of the public relations function, but today, it is just one of several communication platforms our profession employs to reach and engage with its stakeholders.

The contemporary integrated approach, sometimes referred to as the PESO Model, combines paid, earned, shared and owned media. Paid media can include social media ads and boosting or Google AdWords. Earned media includes press coverage but can include analyst relations, awards and speaking opportunities that imply and/or impart third-party validation. Shared media refers to social networks like Facebook but also review sites like TripAdvisor and Yelp. Owned media describes all of the creative assets at your disposal to engage your audiences and to interact with them directly including print, digital and multimedia content.

Publicity is a component of only one of those four platforms, making it an inadequate label for describing what today’s strategic communicators do.

So, Let’s Retire the Term Publicist and Champion the Role of Strategic Communicator.

It’s time to toss this transactional, tactical, and out-of-touch term. It’s old school and perpetuates a narrow stereotype of what public relations today actually is. Publicity is about as apropos to what my team and I do every day at (W)right On Communications as my childhood nickname is to my adult identity. Now, if only I could get my mom to stop calling me Oobies.

5 Reasons You Shouldn’t Be Hiring a PR Firm

Hiring a PR Firm

Take it from the team at (W)right On Communications, people often think about hiring a PR firm for the wrong reasons. But how can you gauge whether you’re doing it for the right ones?

If you recognize yourself in any of these five reasons for not hiring a PR firm, that’s a sign you need to take a step back and reconsider whether (W)right On Communications, or any good PR firm, is right for you. Now, that said, if you’ve reviewed the aforementioned list and feel that you’re ready to get serious about strategy, storytelling, scope and budgets–and an integrated strategic communications partner sounds like just the ticket; let’s get down to business.

Want to Talk?

We’re communicators, so we love to listen as much as we love to talk. Get in touch so we can feel each other out.

We want to know what your business objectives are so we can share with you how we’ll help meet them. Knowing what your time frame and budget are for reaching them gives us everything we need to turn around a proposal for you. Email us at info@wrightoncomm.com or call (213) 633-7575 to start the ball rolling.

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