The reality of PR in 2018 is that there is no longer such a thing as non-breaking news. The 24-hour news alert environment that we currently occupy is exploited by news outlets and social media to keep us glued to our screens. News outlets — and consumers — have the attention spans of two-year-olds, jumping from one “breaking” news event to another.
All breaking news seems to be unprecedented and existentially vital, if not dooming. To this anxiety-provoking background add the very real new news stories that 2018 will bring us, including the Olympics, the World Cup, and another U.S. election. (The cynic in me begins to wonder: Is this all being secretly sponsored by the manufacturers of Prozac and Atavan? Are the lobbyists for Big Pharma, Facebook, and Fox News having lunch together today?)
So how does a communicator cope?
Here are three simple, basic tips on how to survive PR in 2018:
- Listen to your stakeholders. They are what matters. Ignore the multitudes in social media, the millions that will never buy your product, and anyone else that doesn’t influence the behavior or opinions of your stakeholders.
- Use data and common sense. Don’t let yourself be distracted by the crisis de jour. Get a good measurement system in place that tracks your real engagement, relevant coverage, accurate sentiment (as it affects your stakeholders, not some computer definition of positive or negative), and goal conversions on a weekly basis. If you can, go back six months to establish a baseline so you know if a crisis is real, or just normal news that someone in senior leadership decided was a crisis.
- Newsjack with care. If you’re going to be opportunistic about one of this year’s big events, then pick one and do it well. Plan carefully. No matter how newsworthy you think you are, they simply aren’t going to cover you every time you piggyback. ∞
Illustration by Bill Paarlberg, with an image by vanngoctang on Pixabay.