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Mainstream vs. Social Media: Keep your standards high
By G. A. Volb

There are several media-related tools businesses and organizations use to help enhance “name brand” recognition or publicize key messages related to products, programs or services.

The two most visible are mainstream and social media.

Most interact with mainstream media on a regular basis, even if unknowingly. In such cases we typically take on the role of “receiving” targeted messaging. Mainstream media provides a great source for highlighting newsworthy events, or other subjects of interest to the specific media outlet’s audience, but it’s not an easy sell. If looking to piggyback off the outlet’s ability to reach out and touch folks, engaging mainstream media requires professional insight in the development of products – whether print or broadcast. Anything less will destroy the very relationship you’re trying to build. Simply put, if your products don’t meet their standards for use, your messaging efforts will die a quick death.

Fortunately, most also provide the opportunity for direct advertising – the ability to “pay to play.” It’s a whole lot easier to garner coverage for specific products or services when you’re paying for it. By paying for coverage you’ll also have much more control over content and final look of the material. For some, however, this avenue is cost prohibitive unless there is a considerable marketing budget available. Thus, short of paying for coverage, your challenge is in providing professional level journalism, imagery or other content media outlets will use for free.

Another option is social media. Social media has taken off in the past few years with everyone from soccer moms to high school students and college professors engaging via blogs and other social sites.

One of the major issues I’ve noticed regarding social media, however, is the notion standards can be ignored. That written or multimedia products don’t have to meet the same standards as mainstream media. I suggest you adhere to the same journalism standards you would for any mainstream newspaper, magazine or broadcast outlet, so that which is produced has a better chance of growing “legs” and being disseminated regionally, even globally. It’s extremely important material is seen as professionally accomplished, or reputation and credibility suffers – key messaging fails and products not remarketed.  

And let's face it; delivering key messages in order to educate and garner support for particular internal goals is was this is all about.

Bottom line: Maintain a professional posture in all you do. Write your blogs like you were writing for a high-end daily/weekly. You want everything you do to come off as professional, giving it the best chance of being picked up by the many outlets you interact with.

Social Media Rule of thumb: Before sending anything out or publishing via internal products, ask yourself one question; “Would I dare submit this to a real newspaper, magazine, or broadcast outlet?” If the answer is "No," rework it before using it in a blog or publishing in internal publications.

Fight the urge to be lazy. Keep your standards high.


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