Saturday 24 February 2018

Can PRs work in real-time?

Today a few of us from the Sydney office attended a fantastic MediaConnect event about ‘Real-time Communications in the PR and Media Industries’. Featuring a great line-up of journo and PR talent, it was a great opportunity to find out how PRs are measuring up when speed is becoming an increasingly important factor in the delivery and writing of news.
Lara Sinclair, online media editor and marketing writer for The Australian, gave some insight into the massive number of stories she needs to get out every day – from blog posts, to traditional print stories, to regular online news updates.  Whereas a few years ago, she would have 3-4 hours to pump out a news story, she now has as little as 15 minutes. That’s right – 15 minutes to source, write and get commentary for a news story. Scary, isn’t it? 

A very interesting question was posed by someone in the audience, “What is more important to real time news media – accuracy or speed?” This opened up an interesting discussion from the panel…

Renai LeMay, publisher and Editor of tech news site Delimiter, explained how he needs to meet the demands of his readers, which means  publishing constantly. The days of finding both sides of the story before publishing are dead. With news breaking on Twitter before news breaks on traditional and online media, readers are now taken through a journey throughout the day as more information becomes available. If you read one story at 9:00am, and check in at 5:00pm, there could have been a whole new proliferation of commentary that you may have missed and the story you read in the morning could have completed turned on its head by the end of the day.

So, are PRs keeping up with this rapidly changing news landscape?

Scott Pettet, MD of Lewis PR and Craig Middleton, Group Manager for Media Relations at Telstra had some really insightful recommendations us PRs should try to take on board:

  •  Educate your clients: Show them how these media processes work and what internal procedures need to be in place to make sure commentary can provided to journos in a timely manner
  • Empower spokespeople: Make sure the spokespeople clients have are empowered to comment when needed. Don’t have a spokesperson that can’t say a single word without the top execs gaining approval first.
  •  Work on getting the commentary a journalist needs as quickly as possible: You don’t want to miss out on an opportunity and you certainly don’t want to damage a relationship you may have with a journalist.
  •  Be up front and honest: If you can’t get commentary within a specific time frame, own up and tell them so they can move on and look for someone else. We all know what it’s like to be waiting around for a phone call when you’re on deadline.

And finally…GET ON TWITTER! These days, news breaks first on Twitter so PRs need to be across important news within minutes.

Quick thanks to MediaConnect. It was a very worthwhile event and we’ll be keeping an eye out for the next one!


Tracey Yong, Meredith Williams, Jenni Hart and Shiva Kumar