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PRSA-NY Meet the Media "Disruptors" Recap

This is a guest post by Jessie Reda, Assistant Account Executive at LKPR, Inc. 
The Meet the Media Disruptors panel, hosted on Tuesday, October 21, 2014, by PRSA-NY during Communications Week, was a great way for communicators to get a better idea as to how traditional media outlets have made the transition to digital outlets, as well as how digital outlets have emerged on their own. What better way to celebrate Communications Week than to listen to the disruptors themselves talk about how PR professionals can evolve in order to stay relevant in the shifting landscape of the media world.  

The reporters on this panel included:

  • Cindy Vanegas, Executive Producer of HuffPost Live
  • Jill Malandrino, Product Development Manager for TheStreet’s OptionsProfits
  • Bob Monek, Digital and Social Media Managing Editor for WABC-TV Eyewitness News and 7online
  • Willow Hackett, Senior Associate Producer for The Better Show

Here are the key takeaways from this interesting and diverse panel:

News is in the now.  
Vanegas from HuffPost Live produces eight hours of live programming, five days per week.  She invites her audience to be a part of the program and experience it in real- time.  Monek has seen a TV newsroom transform into a digital newsroom right before his eyes; it’s changed from getting it on the desk for the 11 o’clock show to getting it on the website immediately.  More people today get their news from social channels first.

It’s all about Engagement. 
Hackett uses The Better Show’s social channels to interact with audiences because engagement helps their show gain recognition as well.  Vanegas also noted that sometimes the comments section of their videos will drive stories; HuffPost Live often looks for the smaller story that people are talking about and want to talk about.

Don’t Forget about Research. 
Malandrino suggests that video gives us the chance to do the research that is sometimes lacking with the immediacy of breaking stories and SEO. Video content allows journalists to take the time to bring in experts to really derive the story and add credibility.  “There is big void of research in classical journalist,” she notes, “it needs to be filled.”

“Better to be a disruptor than be disruptive.” 
Monek honed in on the fact that it’s most important to grow and evolve with change than to reject it.  We have to keep changing in order to reach audiences. For example, the WABC programming that runs while you’re in a taxi is just another way to connect with people because, according to Monek, “TV is everywhere.”

Point of View.  
The best way to stand out among the clutter of pitches and emails is have a clear, concise point of view.  For HuffPost Live, Vanegas wants to know what the story is and expects a PR pitch to reflect a clear fit within the DNA of the show.  For BetterTV, Hackett expects creativity beyond, for example, pitches that target the next seasonal products, holiday trends, etc. She suggests catering the pitch, putting a new spin on something and trying to make it different.

Content is King. 
Malandrino of TheStreet challenged us to use social to be creative and look at things from a different angle, not only looking at what platform got the most views but also what the content of that post was.  This helps determine what audiences are interested in and we can use that data to drive content.

Citizen Journalists. 
Vanegas mentioned the unmatched value of the conversation several times during the panel. At HuffPost Live, even during segments they’re looking to their online commenters to see what’s being talked about most.  They are looking to produce conversation and unique, intriguing stories to differentiate themselves from traditional media. 

So, What’s Next?
The panelists weighed in on what's next to end the panel.  Some key points:

  • Monek: “You have to adapt to technology or get run over by it. Look for opportunity in change.”
  • Hackett: “Find a way to grow with the changing times in technology.”
  • Malandrino: “Keep yourself relevant."

The panel was filled with insightful discussions on where media has been, where it’s heading and how we can all use communication to keep evolving and stay relevant.