The Huffington Post built a media empire from the digital zeitgeist.
The Huff’s genius involved a nose for water-cooler conversation and an eye for resultant keyword searches. Its unreal ability to dominate the search by re-serving the public what it was already discussing allowed HuffPo to exit for a very real $300 million.
For the sake of comparison, Newsweek sold for $1.
Is Newsweek 300 million times worse than The Huffington Post?
Of course not.
But Newsweek never decoded that hidden strand of The Huffington Post’s DNA: Today’s winners no longer try to make news; they instead try to be nearby when news is made.
And here is the bedrock of where media is changing PR. For PR folks to be successful they shouldn’t try to be the news; they should try to participate in news.
Easy to understand, so how does that happen? We’ve represented many different types of client at NettResults – some have experienced spokespeople and some do not. Here’s what we have learned:
1 – if a company does not have a spokesperson then there needs to be a lot of news around new unique features or advanced product development that the user actually cares about.
2 – better (and less expensive for the company) to have a spokes person.
Next up – how do we get that spokes person to participate in the news?
Back to traditional PR – the ability of an agency to position that spokesperson with the media through introductions, interview and good old-fashioned face-to-face interaction. Through this process, the spokes person gains the ‘credibility’ of the media. Yes, vital – credibility. It doesn’t happen overnight and it is a distinct and almost contradictory PR action than the daily KPI of gaining publicity.
Once credibility has been obtained, it is the job of the agency to keep the media informed on what subject matter the spokes person has preferential insight to – most probably because of their corporate experience. This is how the spokesperson becomes an ‘expert’ in their area of business.
Then, later on in time, when the news is looking like it is approaching the subject that the spokesperson has claimed insight and credibility, it is the job of the agency to showcase that spokesperson. This could be as simple as a one-to-one contact (picking up the phone) or it may be more appropriate to showcase the spokesperson in a one-to-many communication (for example a press release).
Before the spokesperson is ready to reach out to the media and fulfill their spokesperson duty, it is the agency that has to create and curate timely content around the news.
It’s not rocket science, but it does take some medium term planning to achieve success.