"The Changing Face of Media Relations": The Editors Tell All

If you follow us regularly, you know that Function recently conducted a Webinar on the changing face of media relations. We brought in some of the most well respected and knowledgeable media experts in the AEC community. As Function:’s principal and director of strategy, Dana Castle, asked our panelists – editors from leading industry publications – about social media, Internet versus print, and emerging trends and tips for PR professionals, a lively discussion ensued. We were impressed and enlightened by the things these media experts had to share and we hope you were too. In case you missed the Webinar, here’s a recap on some of the important things we learned:

Stories and Trends for 2010
Editors will push stories that appeal to their particular readership. Currently, these stories include the renovation/retrofit market; net-zero energy; and the fate of individual companies and practices during these hard economic times. Editors are still focusing on the “green” market and they noted that they’ve seen this particular market continue to grow and evolve despite the struggling economy. In fact, some of our panelists believe that green building will soon be mainstream. And, of course, Building Information Modeling (BIM) is still a hot topic.

How Editors Prefer to Receive Stories
This should be of particular interest to PR agencies as well as to the marketing departments of BPMs. Editors unanimously agreed that the best way to contact them is by email. Don’t Blind Copy (BCC) or Carbon Copy (CC) a bunch of people to the same email, they say, and be sure to include as much information as possible – facts and figures, relevant photographs, etc. – so they have everything easily accessible. Follow-up calls after an email are welcomed and appreciated. As far as media kits and paper copies, most editors say not to bother sending them. And if you do send them, never send something that you’ve already sent- they’ll just throw it away. Make sure that the information you are including in a media kit is new and relevant. A few of the editors suggested putting a media kit online and then handing them a card with the link and password. Publishers do depend on info from PR professionals and truly value trusted relationships. However, they say that most readers lack confidence in claims made by Building Product Manufacturers (BPMs), so it is ideal when PR professionals can supply research and statistics from reliable third party sources.

Changes in the Media Based on the Internet
The evolution of the Internet has changed the way publishers reach their audience. Print and Web content are now complimentary tools. Although some editors’ value one over the other, they all agree that print content is shrinking and Web content is growing.

Changes in the Media Based on the Economy
The economy has also contributed to decreasing content in print editions of publications and more content online. Print, as the more expensive medium, is often the first to go. This means there are less places for stories in print publications, but our panelists noted that they are receiving more stories than ever. With less space and more competition, BPMs face a decreased chance of being featured in print (online, however, is growing). And finally, the economy has affected everyone’s ability to attend trade shows. Publishers are opting to go to more local shows and for letting a closer representative attend shows that are farther away.

Changes in the Media Based on Social Media
Social media has also transformed the relationship between publishers and their readers. Publishers now have a direct connection to their audience and direct field contact. Editors use a variety of sites: LinkedIn (for business purposes), Facebook (for “fun” purposes), Twitter and blogs. Some publications have latched onto social media more than others. Those that have experimented with social media say that it has been helpful, but admit they still have much to learn. And they plan on learning more, aware that the presence and use of social media is growing. Some editors are skeptical about the usefulness of social media in this industry and advise BPMs evaluate the usefulness of social media for each of their unique needs.

Extra Advice for BPMs
Editors see trends moving in such a way that BPMs need to start using BIM regularly and hiring consultants who truly understand the technology. These editors also suggested that BPMs join cultural or academic associations to increase their exposure to the public. But, like the advice they gave pertaining to social media, editors suggest BPMs only worry about joining associations that are beneficial to them and relevant to the work that they do.

So there you have it – a look at the changing face of media relations. We are grateful to our media experts for providing information on upcoming trends, and tips for adapting to these changes. To learn more about this Webinar and upcoming Webinars, contact Ted Hettick, ted@functionatl.com or 404-524-3075 ext. 15.

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