Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Multi Media's New Meaning

I read the Vocus white paper recently, 2010 State of the Media: An Analysis of the Changing Media Landscape by the Vocus Media Research Team. Their findings were more alarming than I would have originally thought, but they were consistent with the realities of recession era business. To get media attention now, your flexibility and creativity are more necessary than ever.
Consider these figures from the report:  In 2009, there were 293 newspaper closures and 1,126 magazines folded. Many of these closures in print media affected broadcast media adversely due to bankruptcies amongst the companies with multiple media outlets that include both print and broadcast. Bankruptcies plagued the television industry for most of the year affecting approximately 100 stations. This would have been largely transparent to many of the regular viewers because the changes were happening behind the scenes in the form or reorganization. Radio lost jobs and had major cut backs as well; however, streaming to online sources is likely to continue. Airing of nationally syndicated shows versus original programming will continue as a cost saving measure.
These losses are significant because, during many of these reorganizations, partnerships and news-sharing agreements were common in the first and second quarter. This sharing of news stories and footage is not happening just amongst local stations either, it is affecting major markets.
So what does this mean for small business trying get media attention? The most significant thing to ask your PR person to consider when you are approaching the media now is this: How will my story look and read across multiple media formats? That is to say, if I plan an outbound message have you considered the story beyond the initial format in which a reporter traditionally works (ie: print vs. broadcast)? Reporters, like many professionals are being asked to do more with less. In many cases they are required to keep a blog, or repurpose a story from a news partner above and beyond their traditional roles.
When you understand that the new media landscape includes photos, video and audio so that a story can be published beyond a single source, you and your PR person increase the likelihood of your story running. Journalists are hungry for these complimentary mediums and your PR person should be planning ahead to help them.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Toyota Should Blow It's Own Horn

One cardinal rule about public relations is to position yourself in the marketplace and media before they can position you.

When you have a brand as strong and powerful as Toyota, it's easy to cite the metaphor that ‘the bigger they are the harder they fall.’ I think the fact that Toyota’s manufacturing woes were front page, above the fold, lead stories in the news media for a week, proves that a short, slippery slope exists when it comes to brand loyalty. Customers could turn very quickly in this climate.

However, this is a story about what can be done right with your positioning and CRM. The CEO was on the Today Show within a day or two of the crisis going national. He was assuring and not defensive. He put himself out there before he would have been forced to make a statement.

Then, the really luck break, the Superbowl Ad. The timing was pure luck. A captive, national audience watched a carefully crafted brand ad produced in sobering black and white. The ad reinforced their legacy and commitment to customer service.

Last, while the story is still hot, they are staying in front of the media by releasing proactive, solutions-oriented stories. The Prius issue is still pending while I write this, but I know their solution is in progress.

So what about social media? I’m not a Toyota owner, but you can guarantee there is a loyal community out there, and they have opinions. This is where Toyota should focus moving forward. Start the two-way conversation with customers, and be above board with who is actually contributing to the chatter. In other words, don’t pretend to be a customer in the conversation, be a representative who is listening, leading and learning from your base.