140 Characters Isn’t PR, It’s a Job Opportunity for Real Writers
You’ve may have been so busy getting Likes for your page(s) and Twitter followers you didn’t notice that management and marketing have been finding people to do your less fun job … researching and writing.
You know, the stuff that’s too much like work.
According to the latest Optus Future of Business report, social media publicists might be overrating their company impact because Optus found the base of consumers using social media to interact with organizations is very low – only 4 percent use it to connect with businesses.
It goes by derogatory names like “native advertising” or more kindly names like “sponsored content,” but good article work is being done and it’s growing.
There really are people out there to do the work because you aren’t capable, up to the task or don’t think it’s as much fun!
The industry has made a lot of progress with what Michael Lewis termed the “new, new thing” and progress is good.
But along the way, we’ve also lost or misplaced some things like reading, sending personal notes (even emails) and creating well-researched, well-written items.
We’ve met marketing folks who say they write the releases for their publicists (which can mean a lot of things, including the fact that they don’t think their publicists use enough superlatives or sales pitches).
Publicists like to say they are hired to protect, enhance and build their company’s/client’s image through the media.
They lay claim to the idea that they can analyze the organization, find the positive messages and translate them into something a good journalist can/will use.
Social media is predicted to rank lowly in terms of customers communicating with businesses because:
a) consumers see social media as a relatively private communication tool for peers
b) many companies are using social media as a straight marketing tool
And when bad things happen – and they do to the best companies/products, they develop a sound response and minimize or eliminate the damage.
Building a Reserve
But astute management prefers to be pro-active and build up a reserve of goodwill with quality messages, quality articles.
And if publicists aren’t up to the task, there is an army of very good to excellent journalists, reporters who can deliver the content.
Remember, their regular places of work have been severely hurt by online media outlets.
In fact, many publicists gloated that now they could bypass the media and go directly to their audience so good journalistic writers were dinosaurs.
Wrong … good writing is always in demand – interesting, fun to read.
Is it unethical for journalists to consider contract writing?
They were being paid before and even today many moonlight doing pieces for companies.
Good sponsored content isn’t a huge puff piece; it’s a balanced educational/informational article.
Is there a home for the pieces they write?
It’s the Web fer gawd sake. There are thousands of homes for good articles.
Ad agencies/publishers already have their other advertorial profit center … custom programs.
How difficult is it to add another “service”?
Marketing and communications people all agree that word of mouth is the most effective form of marketing.
It connects with people who find it relevant and they pass it along to people of similar interest.
It really doesn’t matter who developed it, wrote it, placed it, paid for it or got paid for it.
And as Jeff Blevins, associate professor and head of the University of Cincinnati’s Department of Journalism, reported in his presentation at the recent NAB (National Association of Broadcasters) Conference, companies are gaining an increasing right to free speech in today’s electronic media world.
In his presentation, he noted that, “The court’s most recent decisions have dramatically extended power under the First Amendment and have marked a new, gilded age of free speech.”
To leverage this free speech for companies, publicists have to be prepared beyond Facebook posts and Tweets to develop content that is of interest to the reader/viewer.
If they can’t, there are plenty of good journalists who can deliver.
G. Andy Marken is founder and president of Marken CommunicationsFollow @johnobeto