It’s 2020: Time to Take Charge of Your Narrative

If you want a snapshot of the state of the media today, consider this. Kylie Jenner has 181 million Instagram followers. Her sister Kim Kardashian-West has 176 million Instagram followers. Their sister Kendall Jenner has 132 million Instagram followers. Three sisters who are famous for being famous – just three – have a combined 489 million Instagram followers.

Now, compare that to every single U.S. daily newspaper and add it all up. According to Pew Research, “the estimated total U.S. daily newspaper circulation (print and digital combined) in 2018 was 28.6 million for weekday and 30.8 million for Sunday, down 8% and 9%, respectively, from the previous year.”

Okay, let’s go back. Just three of many “influencers” – 489 million followers. All major U.S. newspapers combined – 30 million subscribers.

Based on this, I could decry the state of our culture, but that’s not our purpose here. Our purpose is to explore what you can do in the current media environment to craft and deliver your own narrative, regardless of the current strength of traditional media.

It’s clear that the days of relying primarily on mass media to tell your story are fading. It’s not that newsrooms are losing their clout, because many are not. But the news business is changing fast.

Right now, newspapers are dying, but many news sites and blogs are going strong. They feed social media with fresh content all day long, and the social sites for their part serve up shared content and original content to millions who can’t seem to get enough, mostly on their smart phones.

That content is the written word, video and audio in the form of podcasts, mostly. There are now one million podcasts, by the way.

TV news is undergoing a metamorphosis of its own. Local TV has always catered more to a blue-collar audience for the most part, but in recent years demographics are skewing older.

Meanwhile, formerly agnostic big digital platforms like Google, Twitter and Facebook have increasingly decided to filter content based on algorithms and sometimes manual intervention to apply their own increasingly controversial value judgements. This transforms “big digital” from platform to publisher, and it has caused no small amount of angst on the part of some industries and organizations who worry the larger system could be working against them and their message.

Taking Charge of Your Narrative

In this environment, how can your organization craft and deliver its content on a consistent basis to your own stakeholders?

The first thing to do is not to lean too heavily on traditional media relations or publicity as a primary means to get your message out. Gone are the days when that one newspaper article could change your fortunes.

How can you sustain your message?

Be your own media organization. Build a communications infrastructure that does not rely on others to tell your story. Create your own narrative. Tell your own story, and do it smartly and strategically so that you can sustain it. Keep it fresh and relevant and credible.

It can’t be another form of advertising or one-sided promotion. To be effective, it must place the information consumer as the highest priority, not the organization, but in the process you build the trust and confidence with the people your organization needs most.

Does your organization have a news production capability?

Here’s what it takes.  It takes a good organizational web site that serves as a digital storefront. This is the place people go to when they want to find out what you’re all about, whether they are potential employees, investors, customers, clients or business partners.

But when they get to the site, if it never changes, they won’t come back once they feel like they now know all about you.

So, what can you do to build and sustain a relationship with them?

Use that website as a hub that supports your news production infrastructure. Make sure you have and truly leverage an organizational blog site, that you are constantly adding news and relevant information for stakeholders. Share your content on social media. Engage with your stakeholders on those platforms, but not just for engagement’s sake. Forge stronger relationships based on trust through social media.

Create an online news page, if you will, with original content. Include stories not only about your organization, but about its industry or issues and topics that matter to both you and your constituents.

In short, make your news page a media site that includes words, photos, video and audio.  Aggregate news from other sources and link to them. Generate eNewsletters and push them out to individual stakeholder groups. Form alliances with business partners and industry trade groups to share content and amplify each other’s content.

Ultimately, create your own news and information destination, and fill the void left by the declining media landscape that currently exists. It has to be more than a simple “media center” or “newsroom” tab on your website. It can’t look like an afterthought or something just for the news media. It has to be a platform dedicated to the growing number of news consumers who no longer get their information from newspapers, television or other traditional news organizations.

In the process, not only will you take control of your own narrative, but chances are pretty good the systems and processes you are creating will also feed your own traditional media relations and publicity efforts.

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For your own free consultation on how to take control of your narrative call or email: 412.854.8845 or timobrien@timobrienpr.com.

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