Category Archives: media

INTEGRATE 2014 Recap

INTEGRATE 2014

Each year West Virginia University hosts the INTEGRATE conference for Communications professionals. Next year’s conference will be May 29-30, 2015.

One of the ways the c21 team keeps up with the latest strategies in communications is by sharing best practices with one another. At least once a quarter, the team hosts internal Lunch and Learn’s where we share ideas and concepts gained from conferences, seminars and webinars we’ve attended.

I attended the INTEGRATE 2014 conference hosted by West Virginia University in Morgantown, West Virginia. I’m currently pursing my master’s degree in integrated marketing communications (IMC) from the university and each year the WVU Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) graduate program hosts the INTEGRATE conference, where more than 200 communications professionals attend innovative workshops and breakout sessions, and participate in thought provoking discussions about IMC trends in our industry.

The IMC graduate program is offered exclusively online and allows communications professionals to re-align their marketing activities to ensure a constant flow of information to consumers from a variety of media. Most IMC students, like myself, are able to continue to work full-time while earning their degree.

The students earn a practical, customizable graduate education that is designed to equip them with the skills to emerge as leaders in the field and immediately apply what they’ve learned to their professional lives. The program is taught by a diverse faculty – from marketing directors to academics to entrepreneurs – who are recognized leaders in their fields.

During the c21 Lunch and Learn, I shared a few of the best practices and most creative IMC campaigns with the team. Even though I’ll obtain my degree this December, I’m definitely looking forward to attending the conference again next year. CLICK HERE to check out some of the thoughts I shared with the team.

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What Pew’s State of the Media Report Means to PR Practitioners

Every spring, I look forward to the release of Pew Research’s State of the News Media study.  Besides reading the report with complete and utter nerd excitement, I’m always interested in the media consumption trends that Pew uncovers.  Here are some of the top findings from the 2012 report.

The Rise in Mobile Technology

This year, Pew’s report focused on the rise of mobile technology and its potential to change the news business.  As consumers acquire multiple mobile devices (e.g., smartphones, e-readers and tablets), they are becoming multiplatform digital news consumers.  In fact, Pew dubs these consumers “digital mavens.”  (Too bad “digital mavens” is more than seven characters; otherwise, I’d put it on my next car tag.)

The Impact on Newspapers

It’s no surprise that as mobile audiences multiply, print circulation is declining.  In fact, Pew estimates that since 2000, the newspaper industry has shrunk 43 percent.  Meanwhile, newspaper websites are thriving.  Thanks to mobile devices, traffic to these sites was up nine percent in 2011.

You might think traditional journalism is dying along with the decline of print publications.  Logical connection, right?  Enter the mighty tablet, which allows users to browse with ease and scroll through long websites seamlessly.  The tablet is saving long-form journalism and providing the American public with a new newspaper – one that allows them to read a lengthy article without having to fold over to page D9.  Currently, Pew states that 18 percent of the population owns a tablet, and those users are increasingly demanding digital content from publishers.

The Future

With former print subscribers moving to digital formats, how will the newspaper industry financially survive?  According to Pew, we can expect a lot more digital subscriptions coming our way “as a matter of survival.”  As Pew states, “The move, long anticipated and long delayed, is only partly influenced by the success of The New York Timesmetered model,’ which now has some 390,000 subscribers and resulted in almost no loss in more casual online traffic.”

Subscription-based online news platforms will change the way PR practitioners report audience reach and online impressions.  In addition, the rise of digital media places added pressure on communicators to think “digitally,” “interactively” and “shareably.”  Today’s “digital mavens” are multi-taskers and quick readers with short attention spans who like to share information digitally. In other words, they are quickly changing the PR industry with a few swipes of their index fingers.

Hold tight as the future “un-scrolls!”

–          Anna Ruth WilliamsAnna Ruth, senior account manager

What makes a great news story?

One of communications 21®’s core capabilities is media relations.  For more than 20 years, we’ve helped B2B and B2C clients make headlines.  So, it’s not surprising that clients and prospects come to us frequently and ask, “Can you get us in the news?”  The answer is usually, “Of course, as long as you have a compelling story to tell.”  But don’t worry if you’re unsure, c21 team members are experts at uncovering media-rich narratives.  Here are the elements we look for to develop great pitches and press releases:

  • New – Your company should have something current and fresh to share with your target audiences.  Do you have a new product launch, a new spin on an old way of doing something, or a late-breaking development?
  • Timely – Make sure your news is presented to the media in a timely manner.  For example, if your company reduced its carbon footprint this year, holding that information until closer to Earth Day (April 21) will give the story relevancy and timeliness.
  • Local – The rise of hyperlocal news has made this element more important than ever.  Your story should be relevant to your locale; and remember, even national media outlets like to see how a piece of news impacts a particular community.
  • Human Interest – You might have a great piece of news, but you’ll increase your chances of coverage if you can put a human face to the story.
  • Conflict/Controversy – This component often needs some finessing, but if done right, you can position your piece of news as a long-fought victory or a beat-the-odds scenario.
  • Odd – That’s right, an unusual piece of news often makes headlines.  Does your organization do something out-of-the-ordinary or quirky?

This list is a classic, textbook means of garnering coverage that every public relations student learns in college.  However, in today’s increasingly social world, I would add the following component:

  • Shareable – Your news must be worthy enough to be shared on social media platforms.  The Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project found that six in 10 Americans consume news via the Internet; moreover, 44 percent of consumers like to read news that is “shareable.”

So, now that I let you in on some little PR secrets, here’s a video of c21’s recent media relations successes:

Anna Ruth Williams–          Anna Ruth Williams, senior account manager

Top Ten Most Interesting Facts from #SoCon11

Last Saturday, the Center for Sustainable Journalism hosted the fifth annual SoCon – a conference that brings together Georgia’s brightest social media experts and practitioners.  Each year communications 21 sends team members to SoCon to learn the latest tips and trends so that we can help our clients execute innovative online marketing strategies.  This year, I was joined by hundreds of attendees from a variety of industries who came together to learn and network during the jam-packed day of speakers and sessions at Kennesaw State University.  And trust me, there was a whole lotta tweeting goin’ on!

I learned new ways to utilize QR codes, the latest facts on broadband usage and how to get the biggest ROI out of social media programs.  So without further ado, here are the Top 10 Most Interesting Facts from SoCon11:

1.       By 2015, more people will be accessing the Internet through mobile devices rather than laptops and PCs.

2.       Millenials engage with 6 to 10 peers before making a consumer decision.

3.       Currently, AT&T employs 40 people whose sole job is to tweet.  But that’s not enough – they’re hiring an additional 40 tweeters in 2011!  Here’s an example of a tweeter: @ATTSusan.

4.       By encouraging Facebook fans to use the “share” feature, rather than the “like” or “comment” feature, you can increase your number of brand impressions.

5.       Thirty five percent of mobile users have apps on their smartphones, but only 24% actually use the apps.

6.       A majority of Americans are now using mobile devices as their primary mode of checking the news.

7.       Job seekers are now including their social influence (i.e. number of Twitter followers, number of foursquare mayorships, etc.) in their cover letters when applying for jobs.

8.       The vast majority of Fortune 1000 companies are either already implementing social media programs or are working on pilot programs.

9.       Globally, the Android has surpassed the iPhone.

10.   QR Codes are most popular in Japan.  In fact, Japanese farmers are using QR Codes to label their produce so consumers can learn about the farm that grows the fruits and vegetables.

Thanks to all of the talented speakers who shared their industry insights, especially Ford’s Sam De La Garza for providing these sweet Ford Fiesta T-shirts!

Speaking of T-shirts, one conference attendee came ready for the session on QR Codes led by Atlanta’s own, Kellye Crane.

I’m already looking forward to next year’s SoCon.  In the meantime, you can find me on Twitter!

— Anna Ruth Williams

New York Times Web Site to Charge for Content

Beginning in 2011, NYTimes.com will allow visitors only a certain number of articles for free each month before requiring them to pay a flat fee for unlimited access.

newspaperWith print media struggling to stay afloat in the new world of online news consumption, all eyes will be on NYTimes.com, the most popular newspaper site in the country according to Nielsen Online, to see if it creates a successful business model or drives its customers to look for free content elsewhere.

What do you think?  Will you pay for articles on media Web sites?

New Opportunities for PR

With the decline of traditional media outlets – newspaper circulation fell 4.8 percent in the past year and an estimated 5,000 reporters lost their jobs – PR practitioners are looking for new ways to get their messages out. Traditional public relations involves sending a press release to the major newspapers, TV and radio stations in a market, making follow-up calls and waiting for the clips to come in. Now, decreasing numbers of newspaper jobs mean that there may no longer be a contact dedicated to your company’s or client’s beat, and you have to cut through even more clutter to generate interest in your company’s news.

While print coverage may be increasingly difficult to come by, opportunities for online coverage are ever-increasing. More than 60 million people are blogging; reporters are contacting people through Facebook and Twitter to obtain information; you can post your own content on blogtalkradio.com and YouTube, in addition to opportunities to live-stream content through Kyte, UStream and other online applications. It’s simply a matter of finding these outlets, providing quality content and using them to your benefit.

c21i – c21’s interactive marketing team – recently helped the Atlanta Botanical Garden enhance its online presence and secured outstanding traditional media coverage for the Moore in America exhibition as well. Through the Garden’s Facebook page and online media portal, we provided robust content, including press releases and media alerts to bloggers and online editors, as well as traditional print editors. The result was more than 19 million online media impressions for the exhibit.