In the new “Curate or Perish” World, what’s a Flack to Do?

If you are interviewing PR agencies, a good question to ask is: “what business are you in?”off_target-1024x823

You may get a confused look; tell them that they have come to the right place and you really want to know.

If they say: “Getting you media coverage, building visibility,” or some such, you should politely show them the door.

The reason is that any agency worth its salt knows that press coverage will happen.  But in a sea of noise and info choices, it is the ability to break through and connect with audiences that makes the critical difference. In short, the correct answer is the “attention business”.  And getting attention – quality attention – is getting more challenging every day.

There used to be a straight line between PR effort and results. You announce your news, work the media, coverage happens, on to the next. A hit in a nice outlet meant something; was sure to make an impression with your audience.

These days it is not just about getting a good story in a targeted publication (sure, it is great to get these, much better than not) but who, really, is paying attention?
And what was once a straight line is now like pinball. You put your news out, the info gets sliced, diced, puréed, ricochets around the social networks (if you are lucky, and the buzz is good), and curated.

In fact, people may only notice your news when it appears on Twitter, in LinkedIn, or their Facebook news feed. Two recent articles really drove this point home.  The first was in Digiday, it highlighted LinkedIn’s growing clout as a curator of business news (see my post). The second ran in the NY Times: How Facebook is Changing the Way its Users Consume Journalism.

What do these trends mean for PR? After all, it is challenging enough to get coverage. Do we also need to make sure that the news finds its way to mobile news apps, social networks and sites that aggregate news? Isn’t that the concern of the outlet that carries your news?

If you think your job is just to get coverage there’s no need to read any further. However if you think that it is to find ways to get in front of the intended audience – to get their attention, inspire action, change opinions, make a difference – then please watch this site for the next in my series.

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