The news has always been a “now” business, but previous technology created a natural lag time in the news cycle. With the advent of 24-hour news cycles, that gap closed a good bit. But, still, people weren’t always watching, so the news cycle for breaking stories was manageable and distinct. Not anymore.
With the proliferation of the Internet and, especially, social media, the news does not “cycle” as much as it churns in a constant maelstrom of information, images and soundbites moving at speeds and saturating audience markets in ways that, often, defy those who try to control the narrative. That doesn’t mean there’s no hope. That just means you have to increase your responsiveness and targeted PR.
Today, 24–7 Really Means “Now”
The news cycle is not just round the clock, it’s right now. If you are not prepared to respond immediately to your customer when they want a response, you are already working from behind… and there may not be time to play catch up. In the modern internet age, the concept of “business hours” is fast becoming a relic of the past. While storefronts still have working hours, your brand’s internet and social media presence should be perpetual.
Concentrate on Influencers
Social media works best when your brand is connected to specific influencers that hold sway with your target audience. While celebrity endorsements have been effective for decades, now the media is redefining what a “celebrity” is. There are people you may have never heard of on social media and YouTube that have a more loyal following than the average TV pundit. Do not neglect these influencers just because they are not involved in the traditional media.
Re-evaluate Your Opinion Channels
One of the easiest mistakes to make in the modern narrative marketplace is to assume who has the most pull or influence in a specific market. Power bases are shifting. Audiences have more control over what’s seen than ever before. The upside to that is that brands have better and more effective audience-targeting tools at their disposal. When you find out who you want to connect with, it’s easier than ever to make that connection.
Focus on People
Public relations, at its most fundamental, will always be about people. Who is your audience? What do they want? Who are they listening to, and what do they believe? All of these factors may be plotted on matrices and measured for ROI, but that doesn’t change the fact that each of these questions is fundamentally about how a person feels.
Plan & Initiate
The days in which you could sit back and wait for people to come to you are largely over. In today’s constantly evolving marketplace of ideas, you must be proactive to stay relevant. Plan for the best, prepare for the worst, and be ready for what comes. Primarily, though, you need to be prepared to act — not react — to whatever happens, and to do so at a moment’s notice.