Print media today is still considered to be the number one medium for public relations practitioners, despite the recent progress were seeing in electronic media and especially the Internet. Public relations practitioners channel any pertinent information through the media in order to send it to its target audiences or shareholders in the company. Public relations professionals mostly deal with print media. Print media is considered an important function for public relations professionals because many newspaper and magazine agencies use new releases.
Before the terrible attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City on September 11, 2001 newspaper readership had been steadily declining in the United States and the rest of the world. After September 11, 2001 newspapers readership had improved as well the media’s image. Americans suddenly wanted to know to be informed about world affairs, specifically the war on terror and protecting our nation. From “The Practice of Public Relations” book: 49% considered the media “highly professional,” compared to 73% after 9/11, 59% considered the media “politically biased,” compared to 47% after 9/11, and 35% believed the news media “don’t care” about the people they report on, while 47% found them compassionate.
Based on a study done by the U.S. Industry & Market Outlook there are 30,700 printing companies in the United States. As for magazines 17,321 are published in the United States according to the National Directory of Magazines. Furthermore magazine readership has seen an increase in its readership.
Now I will begin discussing publicity and its relevance. First, off publicity is known as the conscious attempt to manage the public’s perception of a subject. Publicity is achieved by directly working with media. In addition, publicity is understood a more powerful method than advertising. Advertising cost a lot of money. Think about it a full-page ad in the New York Times or Wall Street Journal could cost a company or an individual thousands of dollars. Publicity cost compared to advertising are very low, it merely costs a company their time and effort to create. Publicity is considered to be more credible than advertising because it’s similar to a third-party endorsement. Its thought of as “news” so most people will trust it.
There are six reasons why publicity works well for an organization. First one is when announcing a new product or service. Like I said earlier publicity is deemed as news so utilizing publicity before advertising is crucial. Second, publicity can be advantageous when recognizing an old product. Third reason is when explaining a complicated product. This means its tough to explain a multifaceted product in an advertisement because advertisements are limited. Companies cannot possibly fit everything they want into a brief advertisement so they devise a publicity stunt such as a staged event to discuss complex products or services. Fourth value of publicity for any organization is little or no budget. This suggests that companies with small budgets cannot afford to devote there time to advertising, so they turn to publicity, which is rather inexpensive and exceptionally effective.
The fifth value of publicity is enhancing the organization’s reputation. This in my opinion is very important job for public relations practitioners. The best way to promote or enhance an organization’s reputation is through publicity and not through advertising because it is self-serving and very ineffective. The last reason why publicity makes good sense for any organization is during a crisis. According to our textbook publicity techniques are the fastest and most credible means of response during a crisis. This is also known as damage control, companies frequently choose this route when a crisis occurs.
Now I will discuss another form of public relations that’s taken part of print media, propaganda. First off the purpose of propaganda is to influence people’s opinion and manipulate people to change their behavior, rather than to communicate the facts about something. The early uses of propaganda can be traced all the way back in 1600’s. The Catholic Church used propaganda to inform and persuade the public. Back during those days the term propaganda did not have the same negative connotation like it has today. Propaganda also was used during the days that led to the American Revolution. Thomas Paine, Samuel Adams and many others participated in propagating anti-British information to the rest of the colonies. Common examples where propaganda can be easily found in newspapers, magazines, pamphlets, government reports, news reports, books, posters, and even art work.
Next topic that I will discuss is how to pitch publicity successfully. The public relations textbook outlines 10 rules or tips on how to achieve publicity after writing a release. First tip is to know deadlines. Time means everything especially for newspapers. They need stories sent to them at a precise time so they can follow up on the story to make sure its not phony. Second tip is to write to them directly, do not call. Reporters have a great deal deadlines to make, they don’t need another person calling following up on there release. Therefore, writing them a letter is preferable and considered proper etiquette. The third is to direct the release to a specific person or editor. It would behoove any person sending releases to a newspaper to write which department or specific editor needs to see your release. The reason to direct your release to a specific person is because newspapers consist of many departments and even more reporters and writers.
Next one is similar to the last one, which is to determine how the reporter wants to be contacted. This shows the reporter that you care about his or her preferences. Something not to do is to badger an editor to get your story to be published. This is a wrong tactic and it wont further your cause. Badgering could only lead to worse results in the future. The next two are to use exclusives but be careful and make sure you do your own calling. Making your own calls instead of letting an assistant to it is a sign of respect. The next suggestions are to not send clips of other stories about your client and to develop a relationship. Developing a good professional relationship is key to accomplishing things. The better you know a reporter the more successful your company will be. The last rule and in my opinion the most important job for a public relations practitioner is to never lie. Once they lose trust in you the relationship is severed and pretty much over.
All in all print media is still regarded as the strongest medium for public relations professionals. Print media can be achieved through publicity and advertising. Organizations should always consider publicity before advertising because it offers some positive benefits. Furthermore propaganda is the spreading of ideas and information for the purposes of inducing or manipulating behavior. For the most part people believe propaganda is usually false, which isn’t necessary true. The last topic I wrote about was how to pitch publicity effectively to reporters; these rules were outlined in our textbook.
Electronic media has become king in the twenty-first century. Fifty percent of the nation gets their news from television. Today there are more then the big three networks. Cable television has become a monster itself with many channels devoted to news twenty-four hours a day and seven days a week such as CNN, Fox News Channel, and MSNBC. The internet is also a very fast growing media for people to get their news, especially for teenagers and people in their twenties. Radio also falls under electronic media. Talk radio is also big in today’s nation with many popular radio hosts such as Rush Limbaugh, Howard Stern, and Dr. Laura Schlessinger. But what makes news media so popular? Is it the right here and right now mindset that the people of today have? There are many things that contribute to this. These next couple of paragraphs is going to explore electronic media and public relations of public media.
People love to watch TV. I believe I mentioned earlier that fifty percent of the nation gets their news from television. The fact is that most people get their news from the television. The reason this is that there is non-stop bombardment of news and talk shows on at all times. There are even specific news series and channels that specialize in a certain part of the news such as ESPN for sports coverage, Bloomberg TV for stock market coverage, and Entertainment Tonight for the latest celebrity gossip. These specialty television shows have grown together with the growth of cable television.
There are so many different news agencies out there now trying to break the big story that public relations representatives for companies are working over time to make sure that their company is not under attack from a nosey reporter trying to rise in the ranks. It is a recurring nightmare for the public relations department of many big corporations. Katie Couric has a great quote on the subject that sums it all up very nicely: “Some news coverage has become more salacious, more sensationalistic, less intelligent, more giving people what they want to hear or what you think they want to hear, rather than what you think they need to or should ideally hear.”
Because of news shows being on all the time, there is one very important thing that every public relations people should know how to do and that is handle a television interview. If a public relations person does not know what they are doing when being interviewed, they can potentially hurt the company that they are supposed to be representing. There are many different do’s and don’ts that should be remembered when participating in an interview but I am going to skip right down to the most important part. The biggest two things you need to remember when being interviewed is be honest and be prepared.
Television publicity is not always a bad thing. Since most people get their news from television, companies usually will want to take advantage of this phenomenon and go to the general public through television. The way companies do this is through the video news release. The people in public relations most often use the video news release for breaking news. Breaking news video releases are sent by satellite directly to a news agency. There is also another type of video news release that is not for breaking news, which is called evergreen video news releases. Evergreen video news releases are often sent to broadcasters on a cassette. This is the case because of the fact that an evergreen video news release is not necessarily as important so time is usually not an issue.
Video news releases are very important for the person who works in public relations. There are many important guidelines to video news releases that should be kept in mind while one is being produced. One of the most important things about producing a video news release is localizing it. A VNR will more likely be used if it can be tailored for specific areas. Another thing that should be remembered about VNRs is that a good VNR tells a story. It does need to be a story tailored to the television viewer. This means that the VNR should be short and to the point with sound bites and graphics. It should appear as if the VNR is just like any other piece of news on the station. A VNR should not be produced if there is nothing to see. If there is no video or no pictures, then it is a waste of time and money. People will not watch it so broadcasting corporations will not even bother to pick it up.
There are some downsides and risks to VNRs. I say risks because just like movies at the movie theater, there are going to be some flops. And also just like movies, VNR producers can lose large amounts of money. A public relations person should make sure that a VNR is needed before producing one. The VNR should also be expensive. Do not cheapen the VNR and cut corners because the broadcasting corporations will recognize this and not waste their airtime. Public relations people should also realize that there are other ways to get the news out to the public. Just because something needs to be reported to the public does not mean that a VNR should be used. Some analysis needs to be taken into consideration to make sure that the VNR is actually the right way to distribute the information. There are some controversies on whether VNRs are an accurate and undeceiving form of news yet overall the VNR is an effective way to get an important message to millions of people.
Another form of electronic media that is important for all people that practice public relations is the public service announcements. A public service announcement is basically just a long commercial that is played for no cost. The organizations that use these most often are the ones of the non-profit sort or of corporations that are doing non-profit activities to better their public image. Although public service announcements are on television, they are not seen by many except for the night owls. Most, but not all, of the public service announcements are run between midnight and 6:00AM. This is due to the fact that companies need commercials that bring in revenue and since public service announcements do not do that, they often do not get the prime time spots. Most public service announcements are like commercials that try to get the viewer to take a specific course of action. They are not nearly as significant as the video news release from a public relations standpoint.
The radio is the last electronic media that will be talked about. Talk radio has become huge in the United States. Twenty-two percent of Americans listen to talk radio according to Scarborough Research. The growth of talk radio can be pinpointed to two reasons. The first is that many more people now work at home. This is because of the rapid growth of technology. People no longer need to go to the office because they can finish all their work at home. The second reason that talk radio has grown is the fact that people drive all the time. Since it is very dangerous to watch television while driving, most people listen to the radio while getting from point A to point B.
There are now talk shows on just about any subject you could possibly be interested in from sports to hypnotism to conspiracy theories. People like to listen to talk radio because it is “real”. Talk show hosts say what they want to say and are paid to have an opinion. Talk shows are also interactive. It gives the people that listen to the show a voice. You can call in and give your opinion on the matter as well. AM talk radio is dominated by conservative viewpoints such as Rush Limbaugh, a pioneer in talk radio. Talk radio can also be very controversial so media directors need to be very selective, careful, and prepared if planning to be on a talk radio program.
Because television and radio have become such a big part of everyday life in the United States, public relations people need to be aware of it and use it to the fullest potential. News on electronic media is a here and now type of media. News needs to be short and pointed to make sure that the viewer does not lose interest. Electronic media is the future so public relations people should be exploring the opportunities now.