A Message From the Enemy

(Please note that the title is a joke.)

Michael Barnes is the social columnist for The Austin American Statesman and an avid blogger. Check out his blog, Out and About. A few weeks ago, Mr. Barnes was kind enough to come and talk to another class I’m taking this semester, The Austin Equation.  Mr. Barnes is a journalist employed by “Old Media,” but he spent the entirety of the class explaining the greatness of new, social media. Basically, he described social media as a beneficial communication tool because it allows journalists to interact with their readers. With social media, everyone is required to be themselves. However, for PR pros, it’s essential to understand the appropriate ways for interacting with media, especially when trying to pitch a story.

Apparently there are a lot of professionals out there that still have no idea how to really go about utilizing social media. Essentially, when used right, social media makes it a lot easier for PR pros to successfully pitch stories to journalists. Mr. Barnes told us to remember just four words: align, goals, attune, and personalities. What does all of this mean? PR pros need to remember to align their goals with the media personality and know how to attune to different personalities. It seems so simple!

He went on to explain how in reality, treating journalists like human beings is often ignored by professionals, but it is incredibly essential. It’s important to immediately begin having an interaction with the person/personality. Here’s a good strategy he showed us: Start off with a creative tweet just to get the idea out there. Follow it up with an email that’s a little more detailed. Then, pick up the phone and make a call. Finally, top it all off with an actual face-to-face conversation. Although it may seem annoying, this type of persistence apparently works wonders. Unfortunately, we ran out of time for him to go on much further, but I found all of this information to be quite interesting and extremely helpful.

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One thought on “A Message From the Enemy

  1. I think people in our generation are lucky in some ways, because we grew up with the Internet. We went through AIM, e-mail (when it was really fun to get an e-mail), Xanga, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Basically, a lot of us grew up with social media being a given in our lives! I suppose that’s less confusion down the road.

    Also, I wish I could have heard that guest speaker. I’ve written the press releases and received them (to turn into articles), and even in college it can be so impersonal. I can’t imagine what it’s like as a journalist in the real world to have press releases thrown at you from all angles without a care.

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