Emerging from a period of contraction, media outlets across the country have been transformed from sprawling bureaus with networks of beat reporters to smaller-staffed, leaner teams designed to post stories at any time from any device with Internet access.
In this environment, a news organization’s ability to consistently break news has never been more important. Today’s media outlets, like Dealbook, Business Insider and TechCrunch, are built for speed. This creates a number of challenges for professional services companies which rely upon thought leadership to help credential their brands and drive their visibility.
To start, reporters are dealing with increasingly tight deadlines, creating an environment where they regularly lack the proper time and resources to address the complexity of the issues on which they are reporting.
On the other hand, reporters are seeking near-immediate responses to their inquiries, which can threaten the desired message of companies that respond too quickly or those that aren’t equipped to respond in a timely manner. Accuracy can also be an issue in this “post first, fix later” media environment.
Operating in such a fast-paced environment, however, also creates a number of opportunities. There is a strong appetite among media for access to expert commentary and thought leadership (just look at the popularity of HARO and ProfNet). Reporters need sources they can trust who have the ability – and standby availability – to quickly distill complex issues and diagnose key points.
In the search for expertise, corporate blogs and self-publishing vehicles have also become more important resources for media. For example, our clients have seen a noticeable increase in the number of media opportunities generated by perspective and content from their blogs and Twitter feeds, as well as more in-depth analysis distributed via their client alerts.
Meanwhile, the emergence of online research tools like Wikipedia represents a growing area of opportunity for thought leadership as the platform is heavily dependent upon media citations. As our 2012 New Media Engagement Survey reveals, the majority of buyers of professional services reported using Wikipedia on a weekly basis for both issues-based research and personal use. By properly pursuing media citations in Wikipedia entries around issues of strategic importance, professional services firms can participate in the dialogue while credentialing themselves with audiences who are highly engaged in these topics.
Reporters, interestingly, have also been thrust into the thought leadership spotlight by developing powerful personal brands with dedicated audiences and followers via a variety of social media platforms (think Felix Salmon of Reuters). Today, a mention on their blog or Twitter feed may be just as valuable, and in some cases more valuable, than a traditional front page mention.
By properly navigating these dynamics, professional services companies have the opportunity to differentiate themselves with thought leadership platforms designed for the speed, access and trust required by today’s media.