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THE SPIN CYCLE: How Facebook’s new publishing deal with major media could impact public relations

Todd Smith

Todd Smith

Last week, we discussed how the new Facebook deal allowing major national media to publish directly to the news feed is impacting the news biz? if you’re a fan of the New York Times, National Geographic, Buzzfeed and NBC News, among others, you will be able to read your favorite articles without leaving Facebook.

Welcome, Instant Articles. In the past, major media have always counted on their own social networks or those of readers to spread their news across social media. These social shares always pushed web traffic — readers — back to the website to experience an article in full. The new partnership allows media to publish their articles to Facebook in full, and for readers to experience news without ever leaving Facebook’s website. But what does this mean for PR?

The short answer is – It could affect a lot of things, from the way we evaluate the value of coverage, to the media we strive to build relationships with, to the conversations we’re able to start with compelling stories. Here are some key considerations:

1. Subscription models. High quality news can sometimes require a subscription, but with this new deal, content is published directly to Facebook – a free platform. NY Mag reports that “select articles” will be published to Facebook by the New York Times, but what about others? Will they have pay walls or only publish certain content to Facebook? From Facebook’s latest announcement, it appears that content will be free and that publishers will be able to run advertisements in Instant Articles. But will this method be more profitable than the subscription or existing advertising models of today? We may see publishers dip their toes into the Facebook experience by reserving some of their best content for paid subscribers.

2. Staffing changes and shifting responsibilities. As media publish directly to Facebook, it’s possible they’ll shift responsibilities among reporters or even hire new writers who understand the nuances of Facebook users and their preferences. This could mean tracking staff changes at key publications and building relationships with new contacts on behalf of our clients.

3. Changes to style of news and reporting. Every social network has trends for what type of content is the most successful. Will media continue to write the way they have been or change to fit the behaviors and preferences of Facebook readers? With the new Instant Articles platform, publishers can create a multimedia experience, weaving in photos, videos, maps and other elements. They could also, however, just upload their long-form articles. In either case, be thinking about the multimedia assets you can offer as part of your pitching efforts. This platform is built with the potential to make those a major focal point.

4. Engagement. With news being published directly to Facebook, will we see greater engagement – shares, likes, comments, etc. –  from readers on news? How will this impact conversations we’re trying to start for and about clients? As Facebook pushes the first Instant Articles into the news feed, we may see inflated engagement numbers. This is a new and shiny offering that’s pushing past the Facebook algorithm to find a cozy spot in your news feed and those of readers. Fast forward to a year from now. It will be interesting to see if an Instant Articles produces more engagement than landing on the home page of a key publication.

5. Measurement and reporting. How will PR pros track the footprint of online coverage and compare publications? For example, if you’ve used reach in the past to prioritize two major national publications, how will you now account for the added reach of Instant Articles for a specific publication. One may have smaller site traffic, but better Facebook engagement than another. Facebook’s Instant Articles website states that publishers will have access to analytics through comScore, but whether they’ll merchandise these numbers as part advertising value propositions or media kit remains to be seen. So, we in PR may not have access to them. It will be interesting to see how popular vendors like Meltwater, Cision, and others report on circulation and reach of publications given this new channel.

6. Search visibility. With readership now being split between social media and news websites, will search engines adjust algorithms to rank news differently – and how will that impact your brand’s visibility when you land that next major story?

It’s clear this new offering from Facebook and its media partners will change the way we approach PR substantially. But that’s the value we bring to our clients and teams – navigating these changes swiftly to continue to find the opportunity for our clients. Check out the Facebook newsroom for more information on the Instant Articles offering (and other news), or go directly to the Instant Articles website for client-facing language and visuals.

Corporate reputation survey — companies raising the bar

The results of Reputation Institute’s 2015 US RepTrak 100 are in – and it’s good news all around for the top 10 companies.

The survey, which calls itself, America’s largest annual survey of corporate reputations and ranks companies based on citizenship, governance, innovation, leadership, workplace, performance and products/services, has named Amazon to the number one spot for the second year in a row. In fact, the retailer’s score has been steadily climbing for the past four years.

Here’s the Top 10:

1. Amazon.com

2. Kellogg’s

3. LEGO

4. Fruit of the Loom

5. Campbell Soup Company

6. Levi Strauss & Co.

7. Snap-on

8. Hershey Company

9. Panera Bread

10. Briggs & Stratton Corp.

The most interesting results, however, have to do with the other nine companies ranked in the top 10. Eight of them are newcomers to the top of the list, with the only two returning brands (Amazon and Kellogg’s) surpassing their previous years’ scores. Furthermore, nine of the top 10 corporations earned “Excellent” rankings, while last year only Amazon had reached that level.

This indicates that the top companies are doing such a stellar job managing their reputations and reaching their customers on levels that matter, they are actually raising their own bar. Last year, a corporation only had to rank as “Excellent” to reach the top spot; this year, it would have to do so in order to make it into the top nine.

Investing in things that matter results in improved reputation, and improved reputation results in improved talent recruitment, financial benefits, and recommendations – all of which lead to an even better reputation.

It seems the more companies that continually improve, the higher they raise the bar for their competition, creating higher standards all around.

Golden Mic | David Letterman: His iconic Top 10 list became late night brand for ages 

David Letterman – who signed off as host of the “Late Show” last week after 33 years behind the Mic – became his own brand, and in so doing, introduced many milestones that defined an era, and gave those in the business of building brands, a lasting tool: the Top 10 list.

His last show began with the ultimate presidential tease, showing a clip from a famous 1974 swearing-in address from President Gerald Ford, which was then followed by a greeting from nearly every living former U.S. president and President Obama repeating the same words: “Our long national nightmare is over.” That set the stage for a fitting grand finale Top 10  with 10 of Letterman’s favorite celebs coming out to read the last Top 10 list (“Top 10 Things I’ve Always Wanted to Say to Dave”), including Barbara Walters, Jerry Seinfeld, Steve Martin, Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin, Chris Rock, Jim Carrey, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Bill Murray and Peyton Manning. For more than three decades pedaling the “Late Show” brand, David Letterman takes a well-deserved Golden Mic.

Each week, The Spin Cycle will bestow a Golden Mic Award to the person, group or company in the court of public opinion that best exemplifies the tenets of solid PR, marketing and advertising – and those who don’t. Stay tuned – and step-up to the mic! And remember … Amplify Your Brand!

» Todd Smith is president and chief communications officer of Deane, Smith & Partners, a full-service branding, PR, marketing and advertising firm with offices in Jackson. The firm — based in Nashville, Tenn. — is also affiliated with Mad Genius. Contact him at todd@deanesmithpartners.com, and follow him @spinsurgeon.

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