Social Media Aggravates Credibility at New York Times


Shared media has made it exceedingly difficult to ignore online conversations. But still, why is it we so often need a crisis to get acknowledge what’s being said in social networks?

Why wait until things get so bad you have to call in a crisis communications team, when a little empathy would have sufficed?

As any top growth marketing hacker will tell you, in a world where anyone can publish their views online, failing to acknowledge mounting criticism usually risks amplifying and aggravating the situation.

The main reason the mainstream media has lost so much credibility is that they are now challenged to start engaging their critics on social media, and in all fairness, they aren’t up to speed on the latest digital marketing tools and lack the resources to invest time in learning them.

Owned, shared, and earned media are different practices with unique staffing requirements.

But the mainstream media wasn’t built to carry on conversations. They’re built to publish, need to engage in social media relations.

So now, as a result of add water and stir content management systems like WordPress available for anyone with something to say, journalists face an entirely new challenge with respect to defending why they took the position they did in every phrase they print.

According to a report issued by The New York Times Company and covered today in a story in the NY Times, one of the ways reporters at The Times should protect themselves from unfair attacks is through better public relations.

“‘The defense should be led by journalists in the news room with support and advice from our corporate communications, marketing and legal departments…’

NY Times

…The report also…recommended that reporters be given television training…

NY Times

…Orville Schell, dean of the journalism school at the University of California, Berkeley, said The Times had to strike a balance between ‘smart public relations’ and ‘letting your work speak for itself…”

NY Times

But the best public relations firms will tell you that about advocacy, not spin.

At a time when digital marketing professionals can leverage owned, shared, and earned media to be heard by like-minded people everywhere and drive organic growth, organizations need to learn to behave like media companies and stop focusing so much on how to get press coverage.

Public relations can help not just The New York Times but organizations everywhere enter productive conversations with their markets.

I also think The Times should be less defensive about recognizing the positive contributions corporate communications can make to the process and start thinking proactively about how it might transform its personnel hierarchy to recognize this newly created hole and rise to the occasion.

The article ends with this quote, which says it all…

“I would be loath to see a paper like The Times begin to spin its image too ardently through public relations techniques,” he [Orville Schell] said. “But I do firmly believe that the paper has to defend itself.”

NY Times

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