What Media Fragmentation Means for PR

February 24, 2015 AJ Bruno: Founder, President

media_fragmentationWhen I was a kid, there were only three TV channels. Cartoons were relegated to Saturday mornings. On Sunday afternoon you had your choice between sports and Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom. There was such a thing as a “news cycle.” If the president gave a speech, you were out of luck because all three channels carried it live.  If you were trying to sell something to my grandparent’s demographic, you could be fairly certain they’d be watching 60 Minutes. It was a simpler time.  

These days, of course, the number of “channels” for connecting with audiences is unlimited. There are hundreds of TV networks, millions of websites and blogs, countless streaming video services, social media networks, online newspapers and magazines. New channels emerge frequently and rise and fall in popularity faster than you can say, “Myspace.” The media landscape is so complicated that finding your target audience has become a game of, Where’s Waldo?  This media fragmentation has a couple of major implications for the practice of PR.

PR is More Important than Ever

Because audiences are so scattered, very few brands can afford to reach them with advertising. Not only is advertising cost prohibitive, but modern buyers have so many avenues for information about products and services that they trust information coming directly from brands less than they ever have. PR can overcome these obstacles in a way that advertising can’t. Once a media mention is earned or a content asset is created, it can be distributed through a large number of channels without the cost associated with advertising. Because people are so connected with others like them, great stories and messages move naturally from one member of your audience to another. Trusted journalists, bloggers and even user generated content give your narrative credibility that can’t be bought.   

Media Analysis is More Important (and More Difficult) than Ever

Of course, this media fragmentation has made the job of monitoring and analysis exponentially more difficult for PR professionals and agencies. Not only has the number of channels skyrocketed, but so too has the frequency with which they publish. The massive amount of content that is being generated every day makes it very difficult for PR pros to identify relevant mentions and trending topics while filtering out all the noise. What’s more, defining the value of a mention is complicated by widely varying audience size and makeup.

Technology Created the Challenge, Technology Can Solve It

The TrendKite solution helps address the challenges of accurate media monitoring and insightful impact analysis. To do this, we apply semantic, big data analysis that models the media landscape. The technology can immediately identify mentions of your brand, competitors and other topics of interest regardless of whether they appear in a major outlet or niche publication. It learns more about what is important to you as you use it to fine tune your results. We also leverage scoring algorithms to create an objective measure of impact. This gives our clients confidence that, no matter how fragmented audiences and media become, they have a true picture of the effectiveness of their PR efforts and the intelligence to develop successful public relations strategies.

I really don’t miss the days of only three channels. I like being able to watch, read or listen to pretty much anything I want on-demand. Sure, the huge number of ways to communicate has complicated the art of public relations, but who better to rise to the challenge than the creative, innovative people who have chosen PR as a profession?

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