Toppling The PR Paradigm

As push comes to shove over the next few Internet years (read: six months), “mail it and editors will read,” the paradigm of 20th century public relations distribution, is fading fast.

We of the fin de siecle PR industry must realize that pull is the new rule/tool of the online digital media community, and of the swelling hordes of fast-connected readers/viewers/listeners.

As push fades to pull, those fat, heavy, fancy press kits, and long-winded corporate releases, will end up in the corporate communications graveyard, replaced by a cornucopia of multimedia goodies waiting to be plucked from web sites.

The web is becoming an increasingly important complement to television as a credible news source for the millions of office workers (95 percent) with always-on, high bandwidth connections. Studies show that 75 percent of workers watch Internet video at the office, following events that impact their business and industry. Sixty-six percent cite news as the most desirable Internet topic.

How will newly minted e-PR people reach this all-day Internet audience? Happily, new forms of content delivery are emerging that promise to substantially increase the effectiveness of corporate communications, as well as the ability to track exactly what online media reports, hour to hour. But before we turn to a new solution, let’s review the changes.

The Internet offers key information delivery advantages over mail, fax, phone, and even email. Chief among these advantages are its real-time nature, immediate accessibility, and its constantly updated news core (no more AM and PM editions, think hourly editions).

The vastness of the World Wide Web offers far greater depth and archival accessibility than the fabled library of Alexandria. But perhaps more important is the web’s on-demand (pull) delivery system, and evolving search and archival capabilities that enable an unparalleled matching of content with information seekers.

Both new online media outlets and new media end-users (information consumers) want his or her e-news when, and increasingly, where he or she wants it, not when we PR types choose, or get the approval, to dribble it out. Moreover, the Internet’s multimedia delivery platform easily dishes up a flood of text, photos, graphics, power-point presentations, audio, animation, and streaming video, to the extent that one’s pipes allow.

How do PR players tie into this new age for maximum effect?

At the @d:tech Conference PR Track in NYC earlier this month, Nick Peters, a senior vice president at MediaLink, presented an intriguing web-based solution called, which launched just a few weeks ago.

Two years ago, MediaLink, which has long been a leader in the production and distribution of corporate video news releases (VNRs) to newsrooms across the US, began to explore ways to take the same content and package it for the Internet. Its first experiment with migrating video and client news materials to the web was Newstream (1.0). It was simply a storage site for MediaLink clients; but nevertheless, it embodied the concept that would become the new Newsstream, which presents a model for corporate communications as we move into the first decade of a new century.

“Important trends in the analog media world convinced us that we needed to create a new communications model. There are 2100 hours of TV news broadcast daily in the US and 31,000 hours of radio broadcasts daily, plus a growing number of news organization web sites looking for content,” said MediaLink’s Peters. “We realized 1-1/2 to 2 minute stories are perfect for the Internet, and that our clients should have the opportunity to maximize all of their communications assets: corporate video, TV, print, radio, and still photos on the Internet.”

The Newstream web site is a central server that, for a modest fee, stores client files for registered reporters to pull from as desired.

“If one’s news is made accessible to news organization web sites, there’s a greater chance they will take it and use it. Digital newsrooms, like their analog counterparts, have a constant need for pictures, sound bites, immediacy and economy,” added Peters. “We identified 6,000 significant news web sites globally that actually take and publish fresh content on a regular basis. We built a database, announced the service, and asked editors to opt-in to receive email alerts or to use the site as a source. The response has been tremendous.”

While Newstream is in its infancy, it is a promising development. Surely major companies will build and maintain multi-media press rooms on their own web sites, but for many companies, large and small, the benefits of a single source site are significant. In a pull media world like the Internet, PR practitioners with the most appealing material will find a steady stream of online editors with a voracious appetite for news and feature material.

Next month we’ll look at some new ways to track that Internet media coverage as we review new online clipping services.

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