The Oriella Digital Journalism Study* found more than 60 per cent of journalists were most interested in talking to experts both inside and outside companies to gain the stories they need. These experts ranked higher than CEOs, marketing and PR professionals.
The prevailing wisdom has always been that it's best to have a small cadre of trained spokespeople who know the dos and don'ts and are well versed in company messages. This still holds true in many instances.
But elsewhere the advent of social media has changed the rules of the game. Every employee has the opportunity to become an ambassador, building his or her own networks and spreading the message to customers and influencers.
Organisations are increasingly turning this to their advantage. Of course it does mean that everyone needs to know the organisation's brand values, proposition and message. The brand story has to travel down the organisation from the top and then outwards, as well as straight out via the usual channels. Internal and external comms need to be completely aligned. Increased transparency means anything else can be very damaging when things go wrong.
There's a big opportunity here for PR agencies. Traditionally internal comms has been separate from brand and external comms except around the big set-piece announcements. Now the company narrative needs to be packaged up and shared in such a way that these ambassadors can use it easily in their own words.
Many of the media polled in the survey said they're going to blogs and tweets of experts before they write their stories. And, once the top media have written their stories, the rest of the media follow. This means the integration of media, analyst and influencer comms needs to be tighter than ever. Those who keep their comms in silos will get left behind.
- 550 journalists were polled across 15 countries in April/May 2013 by Oriella PR Network agencies.
Giles Fraser is co-founder of Brands2Life