I recently attended a PRSA – National Capital Chapter Professional Development session at the new National Public Radio (NPR) headquarters in Washington, D.C. Five leading journalists from top-tier national and D.C.-based publications offered their perspectives on how PR professionals can support reporters in a changing editorial landscape that accommodates our around the clock, on-the-go, social society. Here are a few of the takeaways:
We’re Not in Kansas Anymore
The editorial world is not what it once was. Readers are accessing content on their small mobile devices as they’re on the run from one place to another. With so little time to capture an audience’s attention, rarely will a text-heavy piece suffice. Reporters are seeking to perfect the art of storytelling through incorporation of all things visual: images, graphics and video.
While strong narrative will always be imperative, multimedia can be the missing component in the creation of a compelling story. Reporters are now stepping away from the keyboard to learn new tools and tactics, such as shooting high quality photographs on an iPhone or producing a video. Greg Otto, assistant editor for the Washington Business Journal, said, “It’s important to hone our skills and find the best way to tell our story.”
Moving on Up
Deadlines are shifting; no longer can a reporter sit on a story for an entire day, analyzing the various ways they could approach the news before filing at 5:00 p.m. Now, it’s all about reporting as it happens. The 24×7 newscycle creates a constant struggle for reporters to always be the first to report because if they don’t, someone else will. And that someone could simply be a bystander on the street that breaks the news via Twitter. The focus is now less about providing in-depth commentary, and more about getting content up early, often and during peak web traffic.
The Communicator + Reporter Dating Game
The value of a strong, trusted relationship could not be stressed enough among the panelists. They urged PR professionals to proactively connect with reporters, when they are not trying to pitch them, to spark a collaborative partnership. Let them know about your clients’ areas of expertise early on so that when they need a knowledgeable source right away, they know exactly who to call upon.
When describing the initiation of relationships between PR professionals and journalists, Scott Hensley, digital health correspondent and editor for NPR.org, joked there may be a need for a PR Match.com. “I may be open to new relationships, though I already have a lot of steady ones,” he added.