Public Relations in the Digital Age
By Lumina Communications
Lumina Communications is a B2B public relations firm. We help tell technology companies’ stories and explain the significance of their industries in the appropriate social and economic contexts. We help companies gain a voice in crowded industries that allow them to level the playing field with larger, better resourced competitors. We do this largely by providing industry media with relevant, non-promotional editorial content. That means we keep a close eye on the media environment, which is, in effect, our partner in this enterprise.
And it’s changing. Consider the case of news publications.
There has been a gradual contraction of America’s daily newspapers, as well as mass-circulation weekly and monthly print publications, going on for quite some time. Only a few select outlets have been able to generate a profitable paid subscription model. Much of the blame is laid at the feet of the Internet and its endless supply of digital outlets, most of which are offered free of charge to the reader. This ease of online access to news and content has largely undermined print publications’ paid subscription models, crippling their circulation as well as their income. In turn, this decline hurts their ability to gather and publish the news.
This self-evident truth only represents part of the story. Newspapers don’t profit from the sale of their papers to readers; in fact, the economics are such that the newsstand and subscriber price are almost always less than it costs to produce the publication. Nor is the publication’s news content, however important it may be, the commodity which is actually being sold. What the news media are really selling is their readers’ attention; advertisers and their agencies are the actual paying customers. The publication’s news content is simply the bait to attract those readers. As a rule, the more readers a publication has to sell, the more the advertiser has to pay.
In the case of metropolitan newspapers, much of the advertising is wasted; that is, it is circulated to people who, for any number of understandable reasons – age, gender, income, location, etc. – are not part of the advertiser’s intended audience. But with highly specialized publications – many of which have migrated to the Internet – the advertising can be much more targeted.
There are some tradeoffs for the decline of mass media and the elevation of more targeted ones. For example, when there were fewer but larger circulation newspapers, magazines, and TV networks, it was easier to convey items of information – whether it be news, entertainment, or commercials – that would soon become familiar throughout the population. On the other hand, the diversity that today’s more fragmented media environment supports also has value.
What does that mean for an agency like Lumina? For one thing, it means staying abreast of a shifting media landscape where new online publications, product influencers, and social media outlets are surfacing, morphing, and disappearing almost daily. It also means that new opportunities for presenting information, including webinars, videos, virtual tours, and remote interviews, are now readily available and need to be constantly evaluated for their suitability for each client and each news item being crafted.
However, one thing that hasn’t changed is the way we work closely with the editorial staff of different trade, vertical, and business publications. We excel, as a firm in delivering “content” that is original, compelling, and engaging to that publication’s audience, without being promotional. It is a specialized niche, and it’s one we have used effectively to create awareness, deliver content, build influence, and provide value for our clients. It helps us to unlock the hidden expertise and thought leadership that create long term value for our clients over time.
This is the true mark of a communications firm worth its salt. Can that firm give voice to the wealth that lies hidden in a company and shine a light on it?