The communication landscape is one of constant change. To be an influencer in the industry, companies have to embrace a culture of innovation and change. The truth is that communications has changed more in the past five years than it has in the past 100. And it will change more in the next year than the last five. The question we each need to ask is how are we evolving as communicators to meet these rapid changes?
Understanding modern communications
Today's news stories are no longer text only. Today's news stories are visual, personalized, snackable and sharable. They are long form and they are short form. They can be consumed in an office, or while at a ball game. They are available on demand and easily available in search. They are interactive and global. They are designed to provide the reader with the format of news the reader prefers. Today's news is customized by user consumption preference.
NY Times vs. Buzzfeed
In a recent survey we fielded, more than 400 journalists worldwide were asked which publication represented the future of news. The most selected media outlets were The New York Times and Buzzfeed. So which one is correct? In short, they both are.
The New York Times creates long form, well researched news content and rounds their articles out with interested multimedia - from interactive charts, to video, to photography. Their articles generate debates and discussions around the text of each article that result in high sharing, frequent commenting and inbound traffic.
Buzzfeed takes a completely different approach, using short form text supported heavily by multimedia to attract an audience, and mixes humor with hard news. They rely on social media to drive engagement and see some 75 percent of their views come through social channels. By taking an image-first, socially driven approach to news reporting, Buzzfeed stories build an emotional, personal resonance to news reporting.
Each publication succeeds by producing the content most aligned with their readership.
Why are today's communicators stuck on last year's news model?
While the news industry and communication tools are evolving faster than ever, today's communication programs unfortunately are not. Every day, PR and IR professionals are crafting and distributing news releases with limited results because they are ignoring the basic building blocks of how humans connect with information. 63 percent of humans are kinesthetic learners. That means only the remaining 37 percent prefer reading text vs. engaging with assets to learn. And yet most corporate news stories are still text only. Communicators must adapt if they want to be successful.
What do communicators need to be doing?
You have a story to tell and you have more ways than ever before to get the word out. Evolving an organization's communication program from text only to multimedia rich is not easy, but it is not hard either. When crafting news content, you must think like each end user individually. You need to create your textual element, but you also need to tell your story visually, through interactive tools, with video, all optimized for mobile consumption.
And get ready to share. In 2013, Nielsen found that editorial content was the most trusted content a company could generate, but even more interesting is that the trust in that content jumped dramatically when shared socially. Distributing your news releases is no longer the last step in the communication process, it is just the beginning. Create social messaging (including multimedia assets) to support both your news launch and your news coverage to help increase the discoverability and activity on your news.
Finally, be sure to measure everything. The final step in the communication process is monitoring the success and reach of your news. Important metrics not only include coverage and social shares, but also geo-resonance, inbound traffic and message adoption/modification.
Technology has changed. Human behavior has changed. News distribution has changed. It is time to change your communication program with it. If you're not posting, tweeting, snapping, livestreaming, Instagraming, vineing and newswiring your message, it's not being heard. You have to mix tried and true with new and unproven. That is the job of successful modern communicators.
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Cathy Baron Tamraz, is the CEO and Chairwoman of BusinessWire. Cathy oversees Business Wire's long-term strategic planning, internet strategy and global branding. Cathy was the main architect in selling Business Wire to Berkshire Hathaway in 2006. Her November 2005 letter to Warren Buffett detailing the synergies between the two firms resulted in the company being acquired. Under her stewardship, the company has grown to be the leading global commercial news wire, significantly expanding Business Wire into new markets, including the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Canada, Japan and Hong Kong, among others.
This article is a part of a series exploring communications and media trends in honor of the second annual Communications Week, a week-long series of events celebrating the communications industry, held from October 19-23, 2015. Follow @CommsWeekNY.
Post by Cathy Baron Tamraz, CEO and Chairwoman of BusinessWire. You can reach her on Twitter @BusinessWire.