The Digital PR Opportunity

Remember the days when we read the newspaper over a cup of coffee every morning and watched the evening news on TV? We were quite happy to get our news just once a day. Now we expect to see eye-witness accounts of events as they are occurring. This appetite for instant visual news has changed the way news is gathered, reported and consumed.

This interactive report about the firestorm in Tasmania is a perfect example of what can be done. Watch it – it’s quite an experience.

What brought this about? A rapidly changing media landscape fueled by new technology:

In the year 2000 –

  • 46% of US adults used the Internet
  • 5% had broadband at home
  • No one was wirelessly connected
  • 10% were using the so-called “cloud”—or hosted applications and services delivered over the Internet
  • While there were vigorous conversations going on in forums and message boards, there were no social networks
  • Connections were slow and stationery and focused around your own computer

Fast forward to 2013:

  • 85% of adults use the Internet.
  • 66% have broadband at home
  • Two-thirds of those online use the “cloud”
  • Connections are faster, mobile and focused on outside servers and storage
  • The Internet is the third most popular source for news, trailing behind local and national television, but ahead of newspapers and radio broadcasts
  • Almost two-thirds (61 percent) of people get news online and 68% have watched a video news story online. (Pew Research Center‘s Project for Excellence in Journalism)

“I think you have to capture people’s hearts,” Francesca Panetta, special projects editor of interactive storytelling projects, at the Guardian, said in a phone interview with Poynter.org “As with all kinds of storytelling, you can’t lose sight of that need to connect and touch people, whether it’s writing or radio or a complicated interactive piece.”

A project like this requires a team of talented people with new digital skills, but many newsroom no longer have these resources. While this is not good news for the media, it has opened many new opportunities for businesses and organizations: A savvy Digital PR team can become a content resource for the media (earned media), publish their own news, (owned media/brand journalism) and buy space for branded content on news and social sites (paid media).

In a recent Q & A with top journalists and bloggers from major publications they all said that their editors demand visuals with every story. Why? Analytics of viewer behavior shows that when a story has images, video or charts to support and enhance the text, it can increase views by as much as 9.7x.The L.A. Times calls it “No story left behind.” All of them agreed that they use outside video. The only caveat was that the images and videos have to be original, good quality and relevant to the story.

“Visual information reigns supreme, from video to images to infographics. Overwhelmingly, marketers plan to add more video to content marketing initiatives, necessitating increased investment in both technology and production resources. Marketers’ confidence in and reliance on content marketing is beginning to diminish their reliance on print and broadcast advertising, as well as public relations.”

Altimeter Group: Content, the new marketing equation

Think like a publisher. Get your Digital PR team trained to produce excellent visual material that extends the story. And learn to do it fast. Work with the media and help them to tell stories that capture people’s hearts.

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