Welcome to the Age of New Media. Gone are the days when we had select few print publications, a handful of TV Channels and a fixed style of news reporting. The advent of the Digital Age has bought in an exhaustive list of new media thereby expanding the scope of coverage and opportunities.
Traditionally, media companies presented factual, unbiased reporting to their readers or viewers in order to provide them information. Today anyone with a smartphone or a tablet can create and share news or information to reach masses through various social media platforms.
However, this doesn’t mean that journalism is dead. With a shift in demographics like higher disposable incomes and the need to be well-informed, the new age media has the onerous task of living up to it. The new age millennial has a shorter attention span, and they are always on the hunt for compelling and gripping stories and content. Hence, new age journalism is all about reaching a larger audience in a shorter period time with exciting content.
Role of a Journalist or a PR professional in the age of new media:
Journalism today is no more about just writing and speaking. New age journalists rely both on verbal and visual communication skills and keep themselves updated with various forms of social media to tell their stories. Often, they are needed to take photographs or shoot videos, design the layout for the website or promote their message through social media. The traditional media houses are catching up fast and are exploiting the new media to expand their reach. PR professionals need to be creative and sharpen their pitching skills.
The media today needs a PR person more than before. Journalists are constantly on the lookout for new stories and information, and they pick up interesting stories from the social media feeds! PR firms need to be on the alert for such opportunities for their clients. The ordinary pitch isn’t going to work much longer. A creative pitch which is short, crisp, and accompanied by videos and infographics might be preferred.
Influence of Social media:
With the changing times, media has evolved too. As everyone is glued on to his or her smartphones today, the source of breaking news is no more the Newspaper or TV, but the various social media handles that one owns. Journalists share their personal opinion or a story more openly on social media than via traditional medium. Therefore, there is less fact-checking involved here as there is a constant need to upload new information before it gets published (by someone else) and becomes stale. No wonder for publications the order of the day is “Publish first and then correct if necessary.” Twitter is considered as a “news network” as it is the social media platform where generally news breaks first.
Social media has influenced public relation practitioners too, and the industry has seen some dramatic changes as well as new opportunities for communicating with clients and businesses. As journalists are more active on social media and pick stories from these mediums, therefore PR people should be active on these mediums too and portray and post newsworthy content on behalf of their clients in such a way that it is of interest to the media.
It is important to grasp these new channels of communication so that we can effectively use them as a means to communicate with the public and to see how it affects the PR practice. The journalism and PR programs in colleges need to implement these changes in the course curriculum to equip future practitioners with the knowledge and skills required to handle these media.
Have you heard of the Von Restorff effect?
The Von Restorff effect also called the ‘isolation effect’, states that an item that “stands out like a sore thumb” is more likely to be remembered than others. In other words, we remember people, places and things that are outstandingly different.
Named after Hedwig von Restorff, a bias in favour of remembering the unusual.
For instance, the most famous structure in Italy is the Leaning Tower of Pisa, known worldwide for its unintended tilt to one side. An inadequate foundation on the ground which was too soft on one side to support the weight of the structure caused the tilt. Just imagine, it’s remembered because it’s built badly!
Imagine shopping in your neighborhood superstore, 2000 brands are trying to get your attention, so how will you buy the 20 that you need, and not end up with a lot more? To be easily remembered, or to stay on top of one’s mind, a lasting impression helps. With products it is called branding; the same rule applies to people as well. People, like brands, need to be distinct, and that is where ‘Personal Branding’ comes into play.
Successful Brands stand for something, Tally for accounts, XEROX for photocopying and Bisleri for mineral water. Likewise, for people to be considered a brand, it is essential to have a point of view, some people will be against you, but there will be someone supporting your point of view.
Let’s talk about leaders; we can never imagine Mahatma Gandhi in a suit, Usha Uthap without her gorgeous silk sarees and large Bindi or Dr. Kiran Bedi with long hair!
Each one of them communicates a message or a principle. Gandhi stood for ‘non-violence.’ Read more about Gandhi here: Gandhi – The Master PR Practitioner.
Popular Indian director Farhan Akhtar described Usha Uthup as ‘A Rockstar in a sari’, she stands out as a Pop and Indipop singer with her unique traditionally draped sari, fresh flowers in her hair & a bold, big Bindi. She is an ambassador for traditional Indian values.
Dr. Kiran Bedi for her no-nonsense attitude and for bringing in a positive relationship between police and people.
Brands get built over long periods of time; it takes conscious and consistent effort. To begin with, one can focus on identifying which aspects of
- his or her traits to showcase, and then go about being uniquely showcased.
- A couple of aspects to keep in mind to be established as a brand:
- Be Knowledgeable – Be a Subject Matter Expert
- Have a Personality – Be well dressed and carry yourself with panache
- Seek Publicity – Speak in industry forums, write about the subject and become a guide to your industry.
Building a brand that is “YOU” takes perseverance!
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi who is hailed as the father of our nation, in my opinion, is one of the most effective PR practitioners. He was a master strategist and understood his target audience very well and crafted his communication accordingly. Although he held no office, he was able to captivate the minds of India’s millions and took control of Congress and its elite, sophisticated and cynical leadership. It was his passion, careful consideration and discipline which got him the recognition which has well sustained beyond the man himself. Below are the reasons why I think he was the ultimate PR practitioner and a Brand:
Mahatma Gandhi-The Master PR Practitioner
The Salt March:
The Salt march also popularly known as the Dandi March, was one of his most powerful campaign of nonviolent civil disobedience which had a massive support. The Salt Acts imposed on Indians prohibited them from collecting or selling salt. Indians were forced to buy salt which was a natural resource and a staple in the Indian diet which was needed to replace the salt lost by sweating. The British, who, in addition to exercising a monopoly over the manufacture and sale of salt, also imposed a salt tax. It contributed to almost 8.2% of the British Raj tax revenue. Gandhi, the brilliant strategist, thought that an item of daily use could resonate well with all classes of citizens of India and he chose mass civil disobedience to tackle the issue. In March 1930 Gandhi and 78 of his close associates marched from Sabarmati ashram, some 240 miles to the Arabian sea to take a pinch of salt. He informed the government well in advance about his intention to break the law to make salt. The British government threw people in jail for violating the law and censored the press. Despite that, the Media covered the event in great detail and people across the nation followed suit even though Gandhi was already in prison. Jails in India were filled with 60,000 Satyagrahis whom the British imprisoned.
Effective use of media:
Gandhi was probably one of the greatest journalists of all time, and the publications he ran and edited were probably the greatest ones the world has known. In 1904 in South Africa, he had taken over the editorship of the ‘Indian Opinion’ and published it in English, Tamil, and Gujarati, sometimes running the press himself. He is known to have written on all subjects; he wrote simply, clearly and forcefully. His writing was passionate and burning indignation. He believed that the objective of a newspaper, is to understand the popular feeling and give expression to it; to arouse among the people certain desirable sentiments, and the third is to be fearless and to expose popular defects. He took up journalism more as a service to the public and he was devoid of any personal ambitions. He used his writing as a vehicle to present his various experiments to the public.
He believed in powerful symbols and designed a headgear as a symbol of Indian unity which later came to be known as the Gandhi Topi. His own dress was one of the foremost and most visible symbols he adopted–the loincloth and shawl of homespun fabric –which he deliberately chose, after careful consideration, to show solidarity with India’s grinding poverty. We all know that clothing is an important way to communicate one’s personality and not merely playing a role or dressing solely to impress. This became his trademark attire which eventually got him a name of ‘half-naked fakir’ from Sir Winston Churchill. By the time that India’s independence was won, the homespun cloth or Khadi was inextricably woven into the fabric of India’s life. Even today Khadi is the unofficial uniform of India’s political leaders.
Gandhi is seen as one of the world’s great inspiring public speakers. He could inspire all classes of people whether they were freedom fighters, thinkers or even the farmers. He was very articulate and considerate in expressing his thoughts. His talk was authentic and could move the whole nation into action.
While creating authentic, authoritative and informative content is essential to establish Thought Leadership, we need to be able to distribute it to a large audience. This post takes a look at a three-pronged approach to sharing great content created by you.
- Company Blog:
It is general knowledge that a blog on the website drives traffic. If the blog is educative or informative without being sales oriented, it can bring fresh traffic to your website and keep current customers coming back for meaningful, first-hand insights. Done right, a blog is an effective marketing tool to promote the business. Apart from driving traffic to the website, it also increases your sales and establishes you as an authority in the industry. All it takes is some time for writing, and quality content, preferably experiential.
Ideally, the blog should aim to either solve a problem for your customers or provide examples of problems solved. A great strategy can also be to answer the frequently asked questions.
The content can reach a vast network if the blogs are easily shareable by the reader on popular social media platforms.
- Contributing to Media:
Many media houses accept and publish articles written by industry experts as a way to add an ‘insider’ perspective to their publications.These articles, however, need to be neutral and need to be informative. These will reach the reader base of the publication (who may not have heard of you). It is well worth the effort to create and submit articles – usually referred to as authored or bylined articles to business or industry publications. It is an excellent PR strategy and positions you as a Subject Matter Expert.
- Building content on LinkedIn Pulse:
Posts published on LinkedIn become a part of your professional profile and they go a long way in building credibility. They are shared with your network and reach the large group of professionals. LinkedIn allows people to follow you even if they are not in your network, increasing the reach of your posts. LinkedIn enhances your visibility & credibility. A great way to drive additional traffic to your website is to write a summary of the blog and share it on your profile with a link to your website.
Related: Who is a Thought Leader? What is Thought Leadership Marketing?
A few aspects can be kept in mind:
- Content needs to provide insights to the reader. It can be best practices or what customers / prospective customers may be asking for.
- Keep the Language simple with least use of jargon.
- Maximise the reach of the articles/blog posts by sharing them on your social platforms.
- Maximise by repurposing them as infographics, or e-books which are downloadable.
As part of the mandate, FableSquare will handle the Media Relations for Rang De – a non-profit social enterprise.
BENGALURU, India – 27th February, 2017
Rang De, a non-profit social business has awarded its media relations partnership to FableSquare, an influencer marketing company based in Bangalore. As part of the mandate, FableSquare will help Rang De reach out to media and back them in their endeavour to end poverty in India.
We are pleased to partner with Fablesquare, an upcoming boutique PR firm based in Bangalore. Mangal empathises with our cause and is keen to help contribute to rural development utilising her extensive experience in the marketing communications sector. We earnestly hope that our supporters in mainstream & new media will welcome our representatives. They will help us speak on behalf of thousands of rural women and will support our drive to end poverty in India through the use of technology and an emerging community of socially conscious community of Indians from all walks of life that have seen us grow over nine years. – Smita Ram, Co-Founder & Managing Trustee, Rang De
Says Mangal D Karnad, Co-founder, FableSquare, “We are delighted to partner with Rang De, their cause is close to our heart. Being brought up in a small town has made me sensitive to the plight of rural men and women who struggle to raise money during a crisis; amplifying the story of Rang De will enable the drive to end poverty in India”
FableSquare offers Influencer marketing services backed by Content, Design & Public Relations to both B2B and B2C Businesses.
About FableSquare Business Services LLP
FableSquare is a mother-son led Influencer Marketing Services Company based in Bangalore, India. With storytelling as an impetus, the bold & passionate team of FableSquare empowers organisations with Content, Design & PR to deploy Influencer marketing.