Pros must tweak methods to reach online newsroom

WASHINGTON, DC: Reaching the 21st century newsroom with methods better suited to the 1980s is posing a problem for many PR pros.

WASHINGTON, DC: Reaching the 21st century newsroom with methods better suited to the 1980s is posing a problem for many PR pros.

WASHINGTON, DC: Reaching the 21st century newsroom with methods

better suited to the 1980s is posing a problem for many PR pros.



This became increasingly clear last week at a seminar jointly sponsored

by the National Capitol Chapter of the PRSA and the American Society of

Association Executives (ASAE), during which several participants alluded

to an ’uneasy era’ of transition. This era, they claimed, has seen rules

and methods that used to be set in stone give way to a somewhat chaotic,

anything-goes atmosphere.



Panelists Pat Anastasi, a senior producer at MSNBC.com, and Chet Rhodes,

who holds the same post at WashingtonPost.com, detailed how their sites

are heading into the convergence era, in which they anticipate audio and

video will comprise a much greater component of online news.



’We have four people trained in video,’ Rhodes said. ’It’s considered

more important than still photography.’



Rhodes also suggested that in order to sate the needs of online

journalists, company and organization Web sites should contain good

graphics (such as a logo) that might be used to illustrate a story. ’The

biggest problem is that people want to get large textual information to

the public,’ he said. ’But they should get it to us electronically.’



US Newswire VP for marketing and development Brian Taylor suggested that

PR pros will fail to crack the 21st century newsroom unless they learn

how to manage the expectations of a new generation of journalists. He

noted that online journalists nearly always seek out visuals to

supplement their stories, but are too often merely handed a traditional

press kit.



Others noted that strict deadlines have become a thing of the past at

large online news organizations, which are able to provide continuous

updates as events warrant. And while many PR pros continue to deluge

newsrooms with faxes - many of which go unread - e-mail messages not

properly tailored to a media outlet’s specifications could just as

easily suffer the same fate. Gaining the trust of online journalists,

many of whom guard their e-mail addresses closely to avoid being

spammed, thus becomes even more essential.



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