Are you still compiling a Media Guide? If so, you might want to ask yourself why.
Media Guides, sometimes called Experts Guides, as any PR person who’s been around the block a time or two can tell you, are compilations of faculty experts who can speak to reporters on certain topics. These days, they’re typically online, but some institutions still insist on printing a few copies, as well.
At one time, they fulfilled a useful purpose, giving reporters a concise directory of campus experts to choose from for their stories. But three recent events have proven that it’s past time to let this anachronism go.
- A conference organizer from Malaysia called recently to ask if I would be able present at a strategic planning conference for higher education executives in Kuala Lumpur this fall. “How did you find me?” I asked. “I Googled it,” she said succinctly.
- An Associated Press (AP) reporter called last week to get my response to a recent controversial ad campaign. “How did you come across my name?” I asked. “Your blog popped up in Google,” he said.
- A recently released study from the University of Illinois, Soundbite University, confirms what many of us have observed for years: that over the past several decades, faculty members have increasingly been seen by the news media as news commentators rather than news makers. Reporters are most often looking for a soundbite on a breaking news story.
Put these three events together and a new methodology for PR begins to emerge. Here are the basic elements:
- Media Guides are an anachronism supplanted by Internet searches
- Media releases are often unnecessary and ineffective, and creation/dissemination of the actual news or feature content itself is more productive
Many communications offices have been moving this direction for years, now. If your institution isn’t one of them, it’s worthwhile taking a hard look at how you’re doing business.
For example, instead of posting media releases on high-profile faculty kudos or research, the communications office generates its own news or feature article or multimedia product and disseminates it through its own media platforms, blog spaces, Twitter feeds, etc. Major stories are linked to other blogs, academic papers and references, website landing pages, YouTube, and other social networking sites to increase the overall web “buzz”. The bonus, of course, is that you create timely content for your own audiences while creating important searchable content for the news media.
These days, few reporters use Media Guides. Instead, they’re more likely to Google a few keywords on the topic and contact those who pop up as relevant and interesting.
So the goal today is to improve your institution/faculty member rankings in Internet searches by increasing overall Internet exposure through multiple links and references, and a high search engine quotient.
Forget the Media Guides and the press releases.