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News 2.0 & PR 2.0

January 20, 2010

            Old Press, Printing Press, Newpaper Press, Newspapers                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                In This post looks at some reasons why you should consider rebuilding your Internet news pages & pess releases.  In times of crisis, our level of news consciousness is raised, therefore making it a perfect time to look inward and ask how you would apply Web 2.0 to your communication efforts.  The Red Cross effectively demonstrated the value of NOW PR with the Haitian Crisis.  The time is ripe to strategically evaluate, modernize and rebuild your Internet media webpages & Internet news releases from News 1.0 to News 2.0.

Have you noticed that with all the new technology, Web 2.0 and social media capabilities that many (most) Website based “news” pages for businesses, non profits and government agencies still have just lines and lines and lines of hyperlinks to traditional news release formats that do not inform, do not captivate journalists,  nor engage people into becoming your co-information partners to act. 

These same online news pages do not encourage anyone to return, to use, to publish or to share your news, or your media releases as earned media.  It’s time for new rules, new tools, and new forms of audience engagement.  But, before digging in deeper, I would like to offer a historic perspective to begin, as a frame of reference.

  A Brief Historical Perspective

I am a strong believer in looking back to be able to look forward. It serves well for context in moving forward with strategic planning and forward thinking.  I am now going to  upset the apple cart.  Are your Internet based news releases still following the traditional “papered” press format?  Why? And, how are you communicating news?

Do you know that the industry standard and widely accepted inverted AP style press release format and summary news lead dates back to the progressive era (1860- 1910), as a result of the advent of an emerging new technology and to “fit” telegraph wire transmissions?  (1892: Chicago editor’s “Who or what? How? When? Where?” advice is  use 5W leads)

“Three aspects of the Progressive Era may account for the change in journalism style. First, there was a surge in scientific discoveries, inventions and thought.  Second, the surge in science provoked a corresponding revolution in education. And third, the revolution in education changed not only the general public and its interest in, and thereby its demand for, the facts, but also profoundly changed the journalists who wrote the news.  The changes of the last quarter of the nineteenth century, the Gilded Age, or Mark Twain’s “Big Barbeque,” followed by the Progressive Era were profound.  Science and invention revolutionized transportation, communication, business, and agriculture.  …College educated, the leaders of the Progressive movement believed, as the universities increasingly taught, that science could be used as a tool for reform, a tool to cure societal ills.  …The newspaper industry as well as the newsroom was feeling the influence of postwar changes; the physical look and content of papers was altered substantially.  Headlines became integrated into the design, simultaneously attracting readers and teasing the news content of a story. The Civil War had broken the editorial stranglehold on the front page. Readers demanded news from the battlefields; official dispatches had been featured prominently, bumping long-winded essays to later pages. While advertising sales supplanted circulation sales as the chief source of income for newspapers, advertisers too lost their monopoly of the front Printing expenses were high, but new presses could print unprecedented numbers of papers, balancing the cost. Press associations, wire services and chains afforded more news coverage. More hard news was becoming the premium.”

If, those of us in the PR, media, journalism, public affairs professions are all jumping on blogs, Twitter and Facebook  but not even updating our 19th and 20th century press and media practices, nor Web 2.0 enabling our own “media store fronts”  are we being counter intuitive?  This could be a major strategic mistep in times of crisis or during a need for immediacy(or Now PR).  Are you still operating in the 1860-1945 era, in theory and in practice?  Hmmm… just how are your media results from your very own Internet news pages?   Do you have any audience engagement on your news pages?

By the late nineteenth century, E.W. Scripps had begun his newspaper chain. Like magazines which were gaining in popularity and competing with newspapers for readership, chains sought to provide specialized papers for the masses. But unlike magazines, chain papers were inexpensive and free from advertiser and special interest control.40 Scripps also realized that a heavy-handed editorial policy would be deadly:  Believe in the people; “vox populi” may not always be vox Dei, but it is the nearest thing we’ve got, and if we follow that, we shall not be far wrong — thus shall  we develop a true and enlightened democracy.41 By the end of the nineteenth century, in other words, a changing audience was controlling a changing newspaper focus.

“That was the beginning of the golden age of American newspaper journalism,” T.H. Watkins wrote in his biography of Harold L. Ickes, one of the more fiery of the Progressives. It was a period that extended from about 1890 to World War II, after which the world of journalism, like every other world, changed forever… The men and women whose names survived that remarkable era are invariably described as “legendary,” and they defined the reporter’s breed for all time.”

Commercial reporters were sought out of the graduating classes of such Ivy league universities as Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and Columbia, where we let it be known that writers were wanted –– not newspaper professionals, but writers. . . .

 Modern communication integration efforts have to start at “home first”  with your own Internet site.   We have all these technical capabilities. but most of our online news rooms reside firmly planted like an ancient rock going no where, rather a Guttenberg press with no ink, a space ship with no fuel, a hockey team with a stick to drive the puck.  So, there “it” sits, going nowhere.

Therefore, I assert that there is an overwhelming critical need to innovate your Internet media, and Internet press releases no matter if your are a corporation, small business, nonprofit organization or government agency.  

Here is a recent article on one problematic scenario, a lack of  updated technology, specific to government. President Obama said in this article, “that improving the technology used by the government” isn’t about having the fanciest bells and whistles on our websites – it’s about how we use the American people’s hard-earned tax dollars to make government (and business and media) work better for them.”  

Are your news websites and press releases using and applying New 2.0 technology and tool to work for the PEOPLE who need to find you in today’s Web 2.0 enabled era?

This does not mean jumping out there and getting on all the OTHER emerging external “social channels” without a strategic roadmap.   Again, taking care of your own store front first is critical first step.  Once your house is in order, then you can start applying your own news pages and press releases to the other bells and whistles out there-strategically.  Do you realize some news Internet pages do not even have strategic key words built into the back side of their Internet news pages so search engines, journalists and people can find out about your news?   Sorry, I digress.

So, with that said, I encourage communication professionals, CEOs, and leaders to begin planning now for “spring cleaning.”  As I mentioned in previous posts, its all about NOW PR or continuous communications.   But, another element to the news arena is the current media trends.  A new PR modality is evolving.   And, unless you are aware of the media trends and changes you will be literally left  behind blowing smoke into the winds of change.  More to the point, spending LOTS of money with very little results. 

A Brief Perspective on Current Media Trends

(Source: PEW) New patterns in news consumption and a deteriorating economy deepened the emerging cracks in the economic foundation of the media in 2008. In a big news year, most media continued to see audiences shrink. And, how audiences consume media is changing.   

Only two platforms clearly grew: the Internet, where the gains seemed more structural, and cable, where they were more event-specific.  This is an important to take note of.  Here is a brief look at the battering year for the news industry as measured by six key indicators: audience, economics, news investment, ownership and digital trends:

So, in determining the initial steps to restructure, revamp, update and Web 2.0 enable your Internet news pages, press releases  and News 2.0 strategy would entail some planning.

1) Ascertain what strategic function of your new Web 2.0 enabled Webpages will serve, who it will serve and how it will serve your specific target audiences. Is it journalists, Editors, your competitors or the public?  Which public?   If you have to go back and perform updated specific target audience research please do so!

2) Plan/WhiteBoard/ Wiremap what your updated Web 2.0 enabled news rooms should look structurally and functionally when incorporating new functionalities.  If you are a large organization a News 2.0 Camp might be a good idea.

3) Do the same for your Web 2.0 enable press releases as well.  Plan/WhiteBoard/ Wiremap/Revamp the structure of your press releases. Get out of the stone age, and innovate as this is not the early 1900’s.  I think, we are just a tad bit beyond that era now, are we not?    Risk changing, adapting and innovating but strategically.  Dare to develop a new press release standard that is Web 2.0 enabled for the “new wire”

Let’s take a virtual field trip,  after reading this blog post go out and look at how some others are doing it? Let’s compare notes on the good, the bad and the ugly and those who are applying bleeding edge New News.  A strategic blending of Web 2.0, Now PR and social mobility.

Here is an example of the good, Now PR and News 2.0

(Source: Mashable.com) With the widespread adoption of social media in the non-profit sector, people’s ability to act and support communities in need like Haiti has only been increased. There’s no greater example of this than the incredible fundraising job the American Red Cross did with social and mobile channels. With its texting campaign, the American Red Cross raised more than $20 million.  “The speed and quantity with which the American public retweeted and posted to Facebook the need for donations to help with relief efforts in Haiti was (for anything we’ve seen at the Red Cross) unprecedented,” said Wendy Harman, the social media manager at the American Red Cross. “This was the first time I truly felt like people were using these tools to take action for good. They actually texted “Haiti” to 90999, more than 2 million people did it… the impact was huge — that money is providing people with basic needs like water. I have no doubt it wouldn’t have spread so widely without social media.”  Overall, Americans raised more than $200 million to benefit Haiti in only 7 days.  Simply astounding.

What might you include in your new Internet News Room as a Web 2.0  innovation? Ask your employees.  Ask your media contacts how might your Internet News Room better serve them?

Need help? I am available to assist with strategic planning sessions to help get your organization strategically moving towards         PR 2.0. Email me at alicemfisher58 at yahoo dot com, follow on Twitter@unlimitedpr, or join others of us at  unlimitedmarcom.ning.com!

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