How PR Pros can Evolve with Journalists in a Digital World?
Digital innovation has reshaped the media and public relations industry in APAC – and the COVID-19 has only accelerated the pace of transformation. Many news and media companies are strengthening their digital presence – with more live streams, push notifications and live blogging. This has sparked the need for journalists and editors to equip themselves with new skills and work performance metrics.
Creating compelling content on digital platforms, leveraging audience data to better engage readers and maintaining an active social media presence are prerequisites for media professionals these days. Naturally, PR practitioners also need to evolve and adapt their outreach and pitching efforts to better serve the needs of their media counterparts.
We invited 2 Hong Kong-based editors: Sally Tse, Chief Editor of Cosmopolitan Hong Kong and Natalie Koh, News Editor of AsianInvestor to share their insights on how they have adapted their reporting practices in the digital age of journalism. Sally and Natalie spoke at a recent PR Newswire webinar on Digitalization: How PR Pros Can Evolve With The Media on a Digital Wave that you can watch on-demand here.
Here’re the key takeaways on how PR pros can work effectively with journalists in today’s digital age.
Sally Tse, Chief Editor, Cosmopolitan Hong Kong
- Understand the audience metrics that editors use to evaluate stories
Sally oversaw the transition of Cosmopolitan Hong Kong from a print magazine to a fully digital platform last year. Besides its website, the magazine also has a thriving social media presence on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and MeWe.
Producing content on new platforms means her editorial team has to work with a whole new set of KPIs. Keeping a close eye on the audience metrics has enabled her to better plan and evaluate which content can connect with audiences efficiently and better retain viewers on the website.
These audience metrics include:
a. Monthly active users and page views
As of March 2021, the Cosmopolitan Hong Kong website received 1.6 million monthly active users and amassed an average of 40 million page views per month. Sally shares that a key part of Cosmopolitan’s content strategy is to maximize website traffic by putting out on-brand and valuable content through its content pillars: fashion, beauty and lifestyle.
Organic search is a vital source of traffic to Cosmopolitan Hong Kong’s website. Sally shared that her team takes 2 months to plan articles that require SEO inputs – this involves researching for keywords with high search volume and how they can be incorporated into the content. The aim? To have their articles included in the first page of Google search engine results.
b. Social media engagement
To create viral social media content, the team keeps track of timely news, trends and what’s on the radar of celebrities that would appeal to their target audience. Her team also produces videos or live-streamed ones regularly, as they are known to boost reach and engagement rates on social media. Sally uses social media as a testbed to monitor how audiences would react to various article angles and formats.
c. User Loyalty
In order to retain viewers on their website, Cosmopolitan Hong Kong incorporates interactive tools in online articles: polls, quizzes and “shop” buttons that enable readers to purchase products mentions in articles. Articles are also filled with many inbound links to other relevant articles.
RELATED READ: 4 Ways to Up Your Media Pitching Game in 2021
Natalie Koh, News Editor, AsianInvestor
1. Be agile and anticipate the types of media coverage in a 24-hour news cycle
Keep a close eye on what’s stories have been put out by the media and anticipate what journalists are likely to report next. Some possibilities include
- Follow-ups on news stories that have gone viral or from a competing media
- Announcements from major newsmakers
- Follow-ups on news that have another angle that is relevant to the media title
- Hot topics and trends of the moment
How news is reported in a 24-hour news cycle?
Gone are the days when journalists have the luxury of having a few hours to work on a news story.
For breaking news, journalists need to
- Break the news within the first 15 minutes by putting out 2 to 4 paragraphs on the crux of the news.
- Add background information and context to the story in the next 30 minutes.
- Within the next few hours, they have to scramble to add analyst comments to complement their reporting.
2. Journalists need comments from analysts – get your clients ready
Natalie says: “This is where we can use all the help we can get from our sources or from PR practitioners, who have analysts or consultants as clients who can provide quotes and comments on the impact and implications of the news.” She adds that journalists tend to send out these requests for comments from mid/late morning onwards after the editorial line-up for the day has been firmed up.
Another way for brands to contribute inputs to editorial articles is through long-form features like trend and in-depth analysis stories. Journalists have a longer lead time – a week or more to complete such stories. For such stories, journalists need to seek comments from multiple parties to provide readers with a well-rounded view of the issue.
3. Trendspotting: Using social media and data analytics to come up with story ideas
The digital wave has provided editors and journalists with new ways of coming up with story ideas. Instead of making assumptions on what is newsworthy, they are tapping on website data and social media analytics to help them make editorial decisions. She adds: “Knowing that editors are looking at data and social media trends, you can also look at them as well to figure out stories that we want to do next.”
Look out for the ‘Most Read Articles/Top Stories’ box on the home page of news websites.
Natalie shares that editors keep track of best-performing stories on their and their competitors’ websites and would try to emulate them for future stories.
She says: “Usually if a story has performed well, there would be a follow-up and that’s your cue to pitch relevant clients to us.”
On social media, editors are looking out for trending topics on Twitter and buzz-worthy phrases on Google Trends. “We are looking at how we can connect with our audiences, and social media has helped us a sense of public sentiment on the news,” she adds.
3. Tap on social media to build relationships with journalists
Social media has become an important tool for reporting as it provides journalists with direct access to their sources and commentators for their articles. They can get quotes directly from industry experts and conduct online polls on how the public feels about certain issues.
She says: “LinkedIn is great for relationship building – It’s more professional because people’s job titles are verified and I have used InMail to reach out for comments and quotes.” In addition, journalists also use social media to distribute their stories and engage with users who leave comments there and even use comments for their stories.
Looking for more insights? Check out PR Newswire webinar’s on Digitalization: How PR Pros Can Evolve With The Media on a Digital Wave on demand.
This article is written by Kenneth Goh, Senior Marketing Executive at PR Newswire. A former journalist, he relishes keeping track of breaking news as much as telling stories with trends and data. Connect with him via Linkedin.