The time was 12:01 A.M, the year 1981. If you were in-the-know enough to have your TV dialed to a certain never-before-used channel, you would have seen the Buggles’s music video performance of Video Killed the Radio Star flash on the tube. A child stands in front of an old radio, before it starts fizzing out. She turns into a space woman, dancing in a lab as an alien woman with a pink tin-foil wig. The Buggles’ lead vocalist Trevor Horn sings “pictures came and broke your heart! ...we can’t rewind, we’ve gone too far!”
If it wasn’t cheesy then, it’s cheesy now, but in many ways the song’s message of change and nostalgia feels more relevant every day as more mediums seemingly become obsolete. Nobody feels this anxiety these days quite like the poor souls in the PR department. Getting seen by a prospective audience isn’t an easy task when where that audience is looking is always changing. With advances in mobile technology and social media, there seems to be a new service popping up every week, with tantalizing claims that its app holds the most attention. But one thing’s for sure: even amidst all the technological hubbub, the most stable middle man between information and its audience is the press… right?
Well, not quite. We already don’t live in a world where all a well-intentioned PR person needed was a finely-crafted press release for other publications to do their work. For one thing, journalists hate them for being packed with boilerplate filler; Vocativ managing editor Markham Nolan told B2B News Network that “ninety-nine per cent of all press releases never even get past the email inbox. Most never get read,” and that press releases are “an embarrassing anachronism.” Ouch. Really, journalists are no different than any other readers, especially in an era of social media that caters to short attention spans by providing accessible and efficient information.
So what’s a PR person to do? Become Twitter famous and never send another press release again? Maybe not. We don’t think you have to change the game completely in order to stay ahead, but we do have some tips for you to update your PR game without killing the PR star entirely:
- Social media is about content, not filler. In a way, this is a win-win situation; you get to write interesting and varied material promoting your products or services, and your audience gets to connect with that information in a much more accessible way than a press release has ever allowed. You can’t just think that moving press releases onto Twitter is going to get people reading; the benefit of social media is the engagement that comes as a result of your activities. So write an informative blog, take photos, do something that demands a response (or better yet, a share). Otherwise your tweet might as well be another press release sitting unread in a journalist’s inbox.
- Use social media to connect directly with journalists. This part of the PR game has only gotten easier. Instead of sending out a blanket email to publications, it’s much more effective to get some data on which publications are reacting to and sharing your content, and then directly connecting to the people working for those publications on their social media platforms with more interesting content. It’s more likely that they’ll investigate and spread the stuff you send them; they’re on Twitter or Facebook just as much as you are these days.
- Integrate other media into your content. This goes along with our earlier point about content: it’s all about engagement, from journalists and laymen alike. It’s been statistically proven that multimedia content (posts with videos/mostly text-less photos) receive far more attention than just blocks of text. It’s another advantage online content has over the wannabe-novel some press releases can turn into. It’s also more effective when it gets shared by other publications; a good video will generate you traffic, wherever on the Internet it may end up.
With these tips, we hope you feel a little bit braver about giving your PR strategy a fresh coat of paint. They’re not too far off from the world of the press release, and we think they’re a lot more fun to do, too. And trust us: even if you do just one or two of these things, you won’t look nearly as dated as the Buggles’ back-up dancer, jiving in a silver leotard, wondering where the time’s flown.