How to promote yourself in a world of converging media

In the mid 1980s, I was a young journalist on a weekly trade magazine. Hard to believe now, there was no internet or mobile phones; I used a desk phone to speak to people and follow news leads, and a typewriter to type up stories that would be edited and sent by courier to the typesetters.

Everyone was used to reading their news from a publication, watching it on one of four TV channels, or listening to it on the radio. And we expected to pay for a local newspaper, too.

When I joined a PR company, we sent out press releases to journalists by fax; or, if they were accompanied by a photo, via courier or first class post.

As a journalist, my job was to sift information; finding that which would be of interest for my audience, and interpreting it on their behalf. I used other newspapers, and calls to regular informants, to source information. And to find out more, I simply phoned people who might be able to lead me to the information I needed.

Fast forward to today, and there are:

  • many more sources for information, most of them via the internet
  • fewer and fewer newspapers being bought
  • less advertisers in them
  • very few local viable newspapers – the London Evening Standard recently went free
  • those journalists with jobs have much more information to filter, and are obliged to write (and even film) for many types of media output
  • opportunities for citizen journalism – a great example of which is Jonathan MacDonald’s blog about the abusive Tube worker.

And here’s a great video that provided me with useful statistics covering the issues outlined above, and puts media convergence in context.

So, what can you as a small business person do to help develop your own PR, in a world of converging media – and where the traditional forms are shrinking? Here’s five tips on how to improve your profile in a world of converging media:

  • be clear about the message(s) you want to promote – this is an area where a PR professional will be as helpful as ever
  • don’t delude yourself about the importance of a single bid feature or article, on its own it is less powerful than it used to be
  • publish online, on the news section of your site, on blogs, tweets etc – journalists use Google to find stuff out, just as you do
  • get listed – from TV expert sites to Linkedin, demonstrate your knowledge of your niche
  • be the journalist’s friend. There may be fewer of them about, and they may be under more pressure, but they ought to be interested if you have something potentially interesting to tell them.
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