Thursday, March 31, 2016

Promoting 'Cli-fi" in an online media climate where journalists and PR practitioners sometimes have a love-hate relationship.

This is how I worked with the media since 2013 to produce a series of very important news stories that appeared in a variety of outlets, from NPR to the New York Times, to Reuters, the AP and the Chronicle of Higher Education (and The Guardian in the UK, the Sydney Morning Herald in Australia, Le Monde in France, Corriere della Sera in Italy and the Telegraph in London -- and 50 other media outlets.)

Journalists and PR practitioners sometimes have a love-hate relationship. In the new media era, how should PR practitioners working the ''cli-fi'' beat engage with the media? Furthermore, once a relationship has been established, how should you try to manage and foster that relationship in a way that leads to good press?

 news falls into two categories – “what” and “so what“. “What” is easy to understand – meaning “what happened?” and “so what” is the element that is easily ignored.

When distributing press releases, most PR people are prone to just telling the stories from their own point of view. Many of them often miss the mark on understanding what makes a story newsworthy: the “so what” factor — why is this piece of news important to your readers and the media?

So, make sure you know who what you are doing when pitching a cli-fi news story to your journalist contacts. You need to know who your audience is before you send a press release.

A frequent question asked by many PR practitioners is this: to whom should I address the press release? According to one pundit, “if you are personally acquainted with the editor-in-chief of a newspaper, it is quite possible that you may get things done by going directly to him or her. If the relationship is a strong one, sure, go ahead and leverage it, however, you must be aware that there are a few potential disadvantages if you want to get things done through your personal relationship with the person at the top.”
  • The journalist will be the one who writes about you. Not the editor-in-chief.It is the journalist who ends up doing the real work. If the journalist feels that the work has been pushed onto him or her, the final article may not necessarily be what you want nor produce the desired communication impact.
  • The rise of social media has greatly increased journalists’ influence. In addition to the different media organizations they work for, most journalists also maintain their own presence and increase their influences on various social media channels, such as Twitter and FB. Make sure to establish a good working relationship with journalists, they are your friends and messengers. And they will write as they see it. If you build it, they will come.
So, how do you make cli-fi related press releases worthwhile and worthy of distribution?

1. Identify the right journalists who cover climate issues and literary things and cater to their interests.

2. Choose your cli-fi focussed media channels with precision. Find out who might be interested and ask around. Use your journalists pals around the nation as you contacts and ask them for advice. You have been in the newspaper business since 1967, so use your contacts and sources and treat them as you have them treat you, that is to say, sincerely and with humor and small talk when needed. Remember, journalists are your friends. You could not promote cli-fi without journalists getting behind the meme and feeling themselves that this is a good story, a story that needs to be told.
6 tips to keep in mind:
  1. Frequent communication should be maintained. 
  2. Don't be shy.
  3. Be polite and sincere. 
  4. Identify the right platform you need to reach your audiences. .
  5. Don’t rely solely on PR; friendships with reporters in the industry also can help..
  6. The media and PR pros are in the same boat, but they may have different end goals, of course, so it is important to respect these differences and when a reporter says "not interested" he or she means NOT INTERESTED, so it is best not to pester them any more after that point.  However, even with a new genre term like cli-fi -- especially with a new genre term like cli-fi -- there is always room for relationships with reporters and editors at major media outlets to be fostered and improved. If a PR communicator working the cli-fi beat can consistently offer more useful insights in the meme, it can help establish a stronger professional relationship.


Teia Maman said...

My 2 cents: I've been a newspaper and magazine reporter, and an editor too, and the press releases we liked best were ones that were both interesting AND well-written. We liked not having to change a word, if possible. Write the press release like an article, and include a photo. Keep it short - ONE page, two max. Adhere to AP style (or the particular support's style guide) throughout, and if you don't know it, get familiar with it. Do our work for us, and you will get love!


Ke'a, wow, that's amazing advice. I will pass it on here at this blog. But one thing: readers do not like to read newspaper articles that LOOk and SOUND like press releases written by committee. Readers are smart. They want the reporter's own report, pro and con, balanced, no? If it's just a book review, sure. But for a news article, are you serious? Still, it's good advice for some and I am sure some will take it. Thanks for chiming in. - Dan

Dancing with ''Cli-fi'' -- UK nature essayist Robert Macfarlane on rise of ''cli fi'' in the Anthropopopopopopocene, without saying the word out loud but he knows the term and actually used it out loud in a speech he gave last year at the Man Book Prize ceremony where he did the introduction: