While working in the Public Relations industry, one is constantly bombarded with the fact that the media and communication industries are constantly changing. With digital giants acquiring major print outlets and new social media platforms popping up on a daily basis, we are certainly engrained in these changes and witness them every day. More and more, the media landscape seems to be at odds with the technology world. This is evidenced by the fact that bloggers have begun to outnumber seasoned print journalists. As a result the publicist’s audience is relentlessly evolving at ever increasing speeds.
So how has that affected how we as publicists promote our clients to this ever-changing group of journalists and bloggers? In most cases, it hasn’t. When it comes to public relations, one key element that has stood the test of time is Proactive Messaging.
An Introduction to Proactive Messaging
Proactive Messaging is all about avoiding potential reputation problems by being clear in your messaging early on. It is what gives your company the opportunity to have control of the public relations messages that are being presented to the public. Whether you are pitching a journalist with information about your company, writing a blog for your website or sending a tweet to disseminate the news – being proactive is what is going to help keep your message clear and consistent.
Proactive Messaging is the result of a publicist who is meticulous with their public relations planning. It’s all about being ahead of the game. Developing key messages and defining your audience and strategy in advance is all part of the process.
Preparing Your Messaging Before A Crisis
In many ways crisis public relations also falls under the umbrella of being prepared with messaging ahead of time. Yes, you may be reacting to a crisis, but if you are prepared with a crisis plan, you will have the foundation for addressing it when a predicament arises. What can you do before a situation like this occurs? Outline a crisis team and possible spokespersons so you know exactly who will be communicating your company’s messaging, and how you will handle finessing your brand’s messaging to relate to the specific situation.
How Proactive Messaging Affects Brand Image
Let’s return to our original question: What is the effect of the changing media landscape on public relations? Electronic media will not stop us from delivering a proactive message. It most cases, it is going to give your company more options on how they can disseminate their message. Options include: creating a blog on your company’s site, distributing a newsletter to customers, working with like-minded bloggers in your industry to write a piece for you or posting relevant content on your social media channels. In many cases when done strategically, you don’t have to wait for the media to come to you.
After Your Messaging Development
Even after you have created and delivered your proactive message, your job is not done. There are other proactive PR methods that you need to make sure you are working into your PR strategy.
Media monitoring is a proactive PR technique that can lead to great results. You have to constantly observe the media and monitor your efforts. A publicist will need to monitor the stories in the news and blogs to see if your messages are getting through. By monitoring the media, publicists can see if reporters are taking a different side or possibly displaying bias. Knowing the reporter’s viewpoint on a certain topic is helpful information for the publicist to have in order to support the client’s cause. Publicists need to be educated about how a particular media outlet might respond to your take on a certain topic. The more consistent you are in monitoring the media the more strategic you can be with your messaging.
Whether you are dealing with traditional media, such as print or TV journalism, or engrained in the rise of electronic media, being prepared is a way to combat a negative reputation problem before it even arises.
We like to joke in our office about how everyone is constantly talking about how drastically our industry is changing. “Gone are the days,” we always say. Yes, gone are the days of traditional media, and gone are the days of traditional PR. While this may be true, the days of proactive messaging are still alive and well!