Own Your Media…

The more groups I work with…the more I realize organizations struggle with one concept, taking ownership of their media. Take control of their message and the media created to communicate their message. What do I define as media? I consider media as any digital media assets used to communicate an organization’s message.

More and more organizations continue to spend lots of time and resources finding ways to attract mainstream media outlets to communicate their message. Why…why must we completely depend on mainstream media to distribute our message?

Now…this is not a post to discount the engagement and strategy of mainstream media in PR/communication initiatives. But, given the access to digital communication tools, we can build community around our message using digital/social tools.

So what do I think organizations should consider when managing their media?

1) Bring your communications and new media strategies in-house and use them to communication rapidly and efficiently.

2) Build a new media/social media team from across the organization to capture, create, and distribute the message(s).

3) Build a mothership or home base to direct all web traffic for each communication initiatives.

4) Identify communication channels that engage the target audience.

5) Utilize high-impact, SEO rich social outlets to gain digital traction. These include YouTube, Twitter, blogs, and email newsletters.

6) Track your results.

This is a simplistic look at a big initiative, implementing takes a more detailed approach…but this is a high-level overview that prompts discussion.

As a former journalist who has worked for both small and large traditional media outlets in both general news and investigative news teams…times are changing. As mainstream media outlets are downsizing…the competition is higher for space in traditional media spaces. Less staff to not only cover current assignments but also distribute this content on traditional platforms but new media platforms as well. This marginalizes coverage of your organizations “news” items which now could be deemed as “non-news.”

With the convergence of how traditional media outlets are integrating new media/social media strategies into their content distribution, web traffic is key to their success. So, when organizations depend on their “exposure” with news media outlets posting content online on their online news channels, that is less traffic we can leverage for our own organization’s benefit.

I hear over and over, why can’t we get the media to come to our event? Why can’t we get the media to write a story about our announcement.

Why do we continue to think that the media not only cares about our stories, but has the resources and space in their broadcast properties for our stories?

So…why not just take control of our message. Why not create and manage our own messages and leverage online tools to build our own communities. Why…because many of us are still treating new/social media like traditional marketing/pr initiatives. We hire outside agencies and outside groups to manage our content. We not only need to bring the messaging strategy in-house but the media strategy in-house as well.

This takes commitment from top down in your organization. It takes resources and it takes a shift in thinking. It also takes time to implement and successfully show a trend in success. What you will find is that you now not only own the process of creating and distribution, your content; but now the traditional media outlets use your online tools as ways to learn about your organization.

Why not build a community around your organizations digital properties as opposed to depending on the news media outlet’s fragmented audiences. Yes…there is tremendous value engaging traditional news media in your strategy, but they should work in parallel with your efforts.

Let’s just call it what it is…having a traditional new media outlet write or produce content about our organization is credibility. But let’s leave just at that…adding credibility to the message. But, let’s not depend on these same outlets become the main source of audience traffic to our message.

I will leave you with a prime example of this strategy, South Carolina Hospital Association. This organization had numerous web properties that fragmented their branded message. They were also working extremely hard to gain news media coverage for the numerous advocacy initiatives they represent. They built an online media strategy that included one large web portal which included social initiatives like YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and regular email blasts. The communication section of their web property provides a one stop shop to read, watch, and listed to the life of the organization. They now own their media content and funnel the information through their communication section of their website, driving traffic via distribution channels back to this area of the website. This is ultimately tracking success during campaign cycles.

“Own” your media…

* Image is from SomeEcards.com

word-of-mouth meet mass media

So I was talking with a friend the other day and she shared this story with me. Now for the sake of confidentiality, I am not going to share the name of my friend or the name of the company I am talking about. But, this is a great word-of-mouth story.

My friend works for a major organization, and they were getting ready to hire a bunch of new workers. So they wanted to use some “media” to inform the public about these new jobs to generate interest and find a big pool of applicants. So this organization advertised online with some television and other online media outlets with banner ads that click-thru to the online application process. They spent tons on money on the ads, radio spots, etc. to drive interest for the public at-large to go online and apply. My friend was not convinced this was going to generate lots of “leads.”

So, my friend took the time to make some small cards with with the web address. He took these cards and walked around the organization, passing them out. He gave them to the workers of this organization, asking them if they knew anyone that needed a job to give them this card. He passed out hundreds of cards to anyone inside the organization.

On the online application, he included a field that asked where they heard about this job. It listed different options including the news outlet’s web address, radio ads, tv ads, and also included if they heard from a friend who gave them a card. When they opened up the online process to accept the applications, the number one referral was friend who gave them a card. WOW…all of this mass media used to recruit, thousands of dollars spent on advertising to the masses, and the little cheap cards yield the best result.

Now this is not to say that online media, television, and radio is not a viable resource to spread your message. But here is a situation when someone, who is not a marketing person, took the time to go where the pulse of the people exist and empower them to share with their friends. Think about it, those people took their cards and gave to a friend…probably shared with someone who needed a job. Those applicants will probably retire at this organization…why. Because a friend referred them. The person sharing the card is going share with people whom they know. They are going to share with people whom they think would represent best their organization. Brand ambassadors and word-of-mouth….a powerful combination.

Word-of-mouth is such a cool thing!

Disclaimer – A Social Media “Strategy?” Disclaimer

For those out there writing Social Media and New Media “Strategy” for clients…AND…for those who are looking for help with finding your way through this Social/New Media madness, I do not do the following:

1) Manage YOUR social media and new media accounts for you or your organization.
2) Update or communicate your message via Social Media outlets for you.

I believe in empowering the community within the organization with the tools and technology, and help you use these tools to become the true brand ambassadors. It does not make sense for me to deliver YOUR message, you know your message best. Now, I am not a full service agency with tons of AE’s, a big creative department, and tons of interns…I am a small business. The logistics of this business model does not make sense for me.

What makes sense, help organizations understand the the technology, how it works, where the audiences are interacting, and help/let you build your community around your message. I work with people that know their message best. I just help organizations look through a different lens and see how these technologies can benefit your current strategy and help create and measure the social strategy.

It does not make sense to me to convince a large organization that I can and want to Tweet, Update, Check-In, Message, and Blog on your behalf. I want to be a part of your team and work with your community to create best practices and communicate your message. I want to work with people who want to build a community of people around a message…OR…build the message around the community.

These technologies are only technologies…that is it. I makes no sense for me to take over your message…I just want to empower you with the right tools and knowledge to utilize these tools. It is about building a community, connecting with people. How are you going to connect with people when I am the one doing the connecting. OH…YEAH, that gives me control and allows me hold the purse strings of the client. No! I work with my clients as colleagues.

Now…it may seem I am bit of an idealist, but how can I…and outsider of an organization…really speak on your behalf. Maybe this post is a bit brash or sometimes screaming…but I seeing more and more noise. I can work with you to create messages, deliver these messages,  but not speak in real time via these channels for you. It just does not make sense to me.

The reason I wrote this…I am noticing more and more agencies/representatives speaking on behalf of organizations without being transparent via social/new media channels.

Final Disclaimer…the only time I do speak on behalf of the organization is only when it is absolutely necessary because of staffing or an “emergent” situation.

Maybe I am crazy…if so, let me know.

Anderson Area Chamber New Media Workshop

I was asked a few months ago by the Anderson Area Chamber of Commerce to spend some time working with businesses concerning New Media and Social Media Strategies. This morning was a great workshop with a small group of people inspired and engaged. It is was so much fun to work with small business owners that are so passionate about their business. This post is just for you, all fourteen of you that spent time with me this Wednesday morning. I encouraged you not to take notes, but to take part in the conversation. Here are the two presentations form this morning. The first presentation below was the primer, the place to get us going.

The second presentation below was a way to think about implementing New Media into your strategy. It is full of some examples and case studies.

I am also including the worksheet as a PDF to download. Click Here to download.

Thanks to the Anderson Area Chamber of Commerce for hosting this workshop along those who attended, specifically sitting through two hours of my crazy information.