Digital developments: how news makers interact through social media

How is the media responding to the rapid digital changes on its doorstep?

I attended the PRINZ Digital Developments event, a panel discussion which included Paul Thompson, (CEO Radio NZ), Cathy O'Sullivan (Auckland Editor in Chief, Stuff/Fairfax), and Lizzie Marvelly (Founder, Villainesse.co.nz). The session covered how these three media outlets are responding to and leading digital developments in news making and how they are engaging with an increasingly fragmented audience.

In no particular order, these were my 13 takeaway points from the event:

  • News has always relied on journalists getting told things - and social media is just another channel for news gathering
  • Anything that goes out on social media is fair game for news makers; it's not just press releases and engaging with the media on a one to one basis (think about what this means for businesses – think wider than traditional press release distribution)
  • Media are cautious about uncorroborated news sources from social media
  • Stuff Nation has 260k verified members, where readers can submit their own content and the target is 1m members
  • Fairfax is comfortable with native advertising but there's commercial content that they will turn down if it's not good quality or relevant for the reader
  • Partnerships, native advertising and sponsored posts are about benefiting the audience. Clearly signposting sponsored content is key
  • As a business trying to secure media coverage, consider the extra element you can offer with a story. Visuals are key, and media organisations like Fairfax simply can't get enough video (this correlates with research which shows that Facebook video views outstripped YouTube views for the first time in late 2014, showing the power of video on social)
  • At times of organisational crises, media want information to be provided quickly and easily, with unvarnished access to the top person (CEO, Managing Director)
  • Despite the changing media-social media landscape, getting pitches heard is still about relationships, mutual respect, being responsive, timely, having talent and as Paul Thompson says 'feeding the beast'
  • Audiences are increasingly fragmented, so it's about taking news everywhere: be it Snapchat, What's App, Facebook, or the good old Dominion Post
  • Stuff's new News Rewired platform is about putting the audience at the heart of everything Fairfax does. Geographical boundaries don't matter, because news should be interest based
  • Paul Thompson says you can't expect audiences to come to you just because you own the transmission wave: you have to take content to where people are
  • Digital audiences are important. In the past, people reading the hard copy newspaper were seen as more 'important' than social audiences. That's changed drastically.
The PRINZ session proved to me once again that in this day and age, the only effective way to communicate is through an integrated, multi-channel approach. The days of getting an article in the newspaper and saying "job done" are long gone.

Social media, traditional media, and the developing intersect between these two colossal forces creates a strategic opportunity for businesses and organisations to better communicate, so the question is; are you ready to get your story out there?


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