If no one has said it to you yet, let me be the first to welcome you to the age of "instant media."
What do you mean you ask?
Today's technology, including smart phones, electronic tablets and social media tools, has created a new generation of reporter that is able to report on a story as it's happening. An example is a news conference I recently coordinated for an airline. During the news conference, several reporters attending the event tweeted about the announcement while we were still making it.
Another example happened just a few days ago. I was sending out a news release to about 15 reporters. When emailing a news release to the media, I prefer to send it out to one reporter at a time instead of the less personal, "shotgun approach." By the time I had sent the release to the last of my 15 contacts, the first reporter I sent it to had already posted the story onto their website and tweeted about it. This was in the span of about 12 minutes.
Are you starting to understand how fast the media is becoming?
Now add "citizen journalists" to the mix and you have a whole new group of "reporters" to be aware of. You may even know some of them or may have been one yourself. It's the person who happened to see or capture a photo or video of something happening and then uploaded the information to one of their social media sites or shared it with traditional media.
The significant challenge with instant media is that there isn't much time for the business or individual being reported on to plan and react to what's being reported. Plus, in some cases, reporters in a rush to report the news first aren't always reporting the entire story, but instead, bits and pieces of it. Not necessarily the worst situation if it's good news they are reporting. But, what if it's not?
That's when pre-planning becomes essential. The first step is to understand just how quick instant media can be and to recognize that you or your business are not immune to it. From there, your next three steps should include: Prepare, Prepare and Prepare. No, that's not a typo. Being prepared prior to making an announcement or pre-planning for worst case scenarios and developing messaging for how to handle the situation is the best method to address issues that happen unexpectedly. That way, if you're ever caught off guard by an instant media news story, you are ready to react.
The plus side to instant media is that reporters are sharing more information, faster than they ever have before. This creates opportunities because reporters are seeking to gather information quickly and efficiently. The more you can provide to them, the more likely you are to get a story outcome you are seeking.