Cautiously Optimistic

Social media for better communication and a better life

Information Subsidies or Just Good Stories?

with 2 comments

When public relations professors and researchers talk about news releases and tip sheets, they don’t call them news releases, they call them “information subsidies.”

I am about to finish my master’s degree in public relations, so I have taken my fair share of classes on public relations theory and practice.

When I first encountered the phrase in one of my classes, I experienced an “aha” moment: I had never thought about it before, but I knew instantly that it was exactly correct.

A big part of what we do as public relations professionals is produce information subsidies, or content that helps journalists do their jobs easily and more quickly. With layoffs and hiring freezes in newsrooms, the remaining staffers are squeezed as never before, so the assistance we provide in tracking down good stories can be very helpful to the working media.

Standard stuff for a PR practitioner, right? Yes. But as social media accelerates change in all forms of communication, practitioners will need to expand their own definition of what qualifies as an “information subsidy.”

The PR Daily blog recently posted a great roundup of how changes in media content delivery will impact public relations.

For me, the takeaway points were:

1) remember that journalists are not just looking for text anymore, they are looking for multimedia opportunities,

2) don’t try to pitch reporters using social media, but

3) do get to know the reporters via their social media profiles.

Building and maintaining good relationships with journalists is a must for PR professionals, and social media is one more way of doing just that.

Follow me on Twitter at @charlesprimm.


Written by Charles Primm

January 29, 2012 at 8:26 pm

2 Responses

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  1. When reporters speak of their social media links, one gets the feeling that they are ticking a box. I watch the local NBC affiliate for the Six O’Clock News and virtually without fail one or the other anchor will mention their Facebook or twitter handle as the half hour comes to a close. It seems less like an invitation and more like an act of habit. I would equate it to a businessman from fifteen or more years ago, always in motion and business card at the ready. Reporters are using social media as a sort of twenty-first century business card. You shouldn’t expect to get to know them personally through the social media link. That’s the same as thinking you are getting to know them through a press release or “publicist approved” bio.

    Nancy P.

    February 7, 2012 at 11:53 pm

    • That’s true, Nancy. It seems a bit rote, as if they are signalling their opposition to social media engagement in a passive-aggressive way.



      February 12, 2012 at 12:11 pm

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