By Greg Abel

Nike famously coined the phrase “Just Do It,” inspiring millions of elite athletes and weekend warriors to push themselves to their physical limits and beyond. In the modern era of PR, we can all take a cue from Nike and “Just Write It.”

After all, with the proliferation of social media channels and the ability to target audiences based on interests, demographics, and geography, every business and organization has the ability to become a media publisher and tell their stories directly to the audiences who matter most.

This is not to say that thoughtful media relations should not remain a core component of an effect communications program. To the contrary, the third-party validation of coverage in a respected media outlet remains one of the best ways to build a brand and improve long-term SEO performance. But great communications programs also should include a strategically owned media plan.

Ready to be inspired to take advantage of the modern PR landscape? Here are a few case studies that showcase how the media landscape has evolved and how you can take advantage of it.

Jeff Bezos vs. The National Inquirer

You may have seen the news earlier this year. After becoming the target of an extortion attempt by American Media, parent company of The National Enquirer, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos went on the offensive. The Enquirer had obtained personal texts from the world’s richest man, some with explicit photos, and threatened to publish them if Bezos did not stop his own investigation into how the Enquirer obtained the pictures in the first place.

Rather than bowing to the Enquirer’s demands, Bezos decided to write a 2,000-plus-word article on Medium explaining his side of the story. The move was astonishing, heralded by many as a brilliant PR move as Bezos took control of a damaging story. Sites like Medium, corporate and personal blogs, podcasts, and popular social media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter provide an outlet for public figures to write their own story, even—and perhaps especially—when they find themselves in the media crosshairs.

Of course, not everyone is Jeff Bezos, with his immediate name recognition and ability to easily attract public interest. But this story does illustrate the shift in power we’ve seen in the digital and social media era. With the ability to create and publish content without media gatekeepers, companies and individuals don’t have to A) wait for coverage of the things they want to promote; or B) accept a story they don’t feel is accurate or fair without proactively telling their side of the story.

For Non-Profits, It’s Time to Start Something

Big Brothers Big Sisters created its Start Something web series to emphasize the impact mentors have on kids. The videos have thousands of views with an expanded reach through social media. The campaign itself garnered press coverage for the organization when it was featured in The New York Times.

The non-profit charity: water shares its mission and message through many forms of content—including videos, a “stories from the field” article series, an email newsletter, a blog, and a book written by the organization’s founder and CEO. These stories all demonstrate the importance of access to clean water for real people and their families in terms of education, income, and health. The content humanizes a global issue and calls readers and viewers to action.

Talk (and Sell!) to Consumers Directly

At Abel, we help STX—a global leader in lacrosse and hockey—attract the attention of young athletes with direct-to-consumer content that’s informative, entertaining, and share-worthy. The STX content hub has had more than 250,000 unique website impressions, and visitors spend twice as much time on the company’s blog as they do on the STX website.

Let me be clear about one important factor in all of this: media relations still matters in the modern era of PR. Even though a recent Department of Labor report indicated that communications professionals outnumber journalists six to one, it’s the media outlets that have (still!) the most credibility and long-term SEO value. After all, what do you most often see shared on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter? It’s news articles—and vacation pictures, of course.

As we all move forward in this very complicated, ever-changing, interconnected world of communication and content, one thing to remember is this: you have the ability to tell your story proactively today more so than ever before in human history. To do so effectively, it’s important to know what you want to say and how to say it.

Greg Abel is CEO of Abel Communications in Baltimore. Photo by Andrew Neel, Unsplash

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