Canadian Interview: Carolyn McGill-Davidson

Carolyn McGill-Davidson, president and CEO of newswire service CNW Group, spoke with PRWeek about CNW's recently launched social media release and how it is attracting new clients.

Carolyn McGill-Davidson was recently promoted to president and CEO of newswire service CNW Group, at a time when Web 2.0 is rapidly changing the media environment. McGill-Davidson—who joined CNW in 1999 as director of marketing and new product development—spoke with PRWeek about CNW's recently launched social media release and how it is attracting new clients.

What is the benefit of a social media release?
The social media, or Web 2.0, space allows clients to speak directly with web-based audiences. And what those audiences need goes beyond plain text to include video, audio and tools for sharing of and creating a dialogue around the information. That is what a social media release really facilitates, and I expect it will continue to evolve.

From a client perspective, who will most benefit from a social media release?
The social media release is a complement to a traditional media release for the segment of our client base that currently uses a traditional media release. But, I think if the industry were able to step back, it would see that there is an entire client base that doesn't even know what a wire service is and how it works. It is a really closed community in some respects. The reason for that is that smaller companies have not been able to aspire to much media coverage. In the social media environment, those companies can now use tools like a social media release to get exposure that wasn't feasible in the past. It is really an exciting and interesting time, because we're at the forefront of a lot of change. For small companies we talk internally about “democratizing” the news release, in that a service that once was previously widely used by larger companies that were in-the-know, is now available, accessible, and beneficial to a wider range of companies.

You were recently profiled in The Globe and Mail. Are you happy with CNW's own media coverage and brand visibility?
Being interviewed is not about me, but about the company. But if my having some profile is good for the company, then I am glad to see that happen. The article in The Globe and Mail was relating to a woman being a CEO and what that is like, and that is what drove that interest. But I think [that profile] was good for our company, because it demonstrates that we're a progressive thinking organization and a progressive place to work.

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