Public Relations

Digital Native News: Four Steps for PR Success

By Steve Pludwin | On April 9, 2014

In part two of our series on Pew’s 2014 State of the Media Report, we explore the growth in digital native news and the steps PR pros can take to build successful relationships with these outlets.

Pew Research Center’s recently released State of the Media report gave many in the news business a reason to be cautiously optimistic. The reason? Juxtaposed against ongoing contraction in traditional print media, digital news outlets have continued to grow considerably over the past year. Amid these changes, however, the question for PR professionals remains the same. How can we best approach the ever-changing media landscape in order to generate results for our clients?


Below are four steps for success when conducting PR campaigns with digital native news publications:


1.     Rethink Your Targets – To be sure, a number of digital news outlets are already regarded as top-tier publications. But with upstart platforms emerging to fill gaps in traditional news coverage, fostering relationships with digital outlets may be more critical than ever for reaching your target audiences. Similar to any media relations campaign, do your research before hand to determine the publications that are vital to your organizational goals, but don’t write off an outlet simply because it doesn’t live in print.


2.     Understand Who You’re Pitching – A significant amount of job growth in the news business over the past year can be attributed to hiring efforts at digital publications. But according to the report, many “editors of these digital natives say they are hiring younger staffers with better instincts and skills.” For PR pros this may require adjusting media relations tactics to include more email and social media outreach. Just a quick glance at a reporter’s Twitter feed can provide valuable insight into the stories they find compelling as well as offer an opportunity to engage and connect.


3.     Keep the Content Relevant – With the proliferation of digital native news outlets that cover niche topics, successful media outreach depends on making sure that your content and story ideas align with the publication’s editorial mission. However, given the level of in-depth reporting at many digital outlets, keeping your content relevant means going beyond demonstrating that your organization works in the publication’s coverage area. Providing innovative storytelling angles, high-level expertise, data and digital media assets, like infographics, images and videos, can go a long way to helping secure coverage.


4.     Look for Opportunities Beyond Earned Media – Native advertising – branded content that fits seamlessly into the editorial flow of a publication – has grown in tandem with the rise of digital news outlets. From BuzzFeed to the New York Times, native advertising allows brands to connect with target audiences while at the same time maintaining the editorial integrity of the publication. Incorporating native advertising into your communications strategy can provide an opportunity to distribute valuable content that fosters brand loyalty and engagement across a wide range of media platforms.


Though digital outlets represent just a small fraction of the news industry, their rapid ascent is certainly something for PR professionals to take note of. As the media landscape evolves, remaining plugged into changes in the industry, as well as the opportunities these changes afford, will guarantee the continued effectiveness and success of your communications strategy.



Steve Pludwin

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