Navigating the media jungle; your guide to staying relevant.

Conference: Australian Association of Gerontology

The topic inspired me from the start. I’ve been in and around public relations and media for years now and have received good outcomes from my work however, as with the introduction of social media (that I’m well versed and across) I know the traditional media landscape is changing (especially in the week of the ABC announcements). Staying across the conversation about staying relevant and how I can continue to navigate the media was of immediate interest to me. I like to stay informed.

Hearing from the likes of Darragh O’Keeffe from the Australian Ageing Agenda and Lisa Watts from The Conversation was amazing and met my expectations, even if I didn’t know what those expectations exactly were. I was just curious to learn.

When opening statements are about journalist sackings and a changing media industry landscape leading to more agency copy with generic images and no background research to fill the newsstands (which bore the life out of me), I knew I was listening to the right people. Services like The Conversation are the future. They model themselves on seeking commissioned articles from academics, thorough investigations with research and peer reviews, the right to reply and an informed readership. Yes, the majority of their audience are well educated but it also makes that readership thought leaders. It’s who we need to tap into to help shape our world.

To have our voice heard.

But what is news? The question was opened as a statement but it got me thinking around the general presentation in front of me. The deconstruction of what our expectations are when we hear that word. News.

If we go back in time, it is listed as having the personality of something that has impact, frequency, timeliness, negativity, proximity, unexpectedness, conflict, personalisation, relevance, unambiguity, and concision. I am not even going to begin to pronounce some of those words, however they all make sense when explained (well, they did then). Basically, people expect to digest news quickly, from their local area, that has some type of impact on them. You could call it mainstream. It serves it’s purpose. And the online world is eating it up and spitting it out at a rate of knots… without any real background understanding of the impact they will have long term.

Not everything in mainstream media is good news. Or helpful. In fact, some of it is downright damaging. They used the immunisation debate as one example. How many times do we have to disprove that immunisations do not cause Autism for example.

Patrick Stokes, Deakin University says, “I’m sure you’ve heard the expression ‘everyone is entitled to their opinion.’.  “I’m entitled to my opinion” is all too often used to shelter beliefs that should have been abandoned. It becomes shorthand for “I can say or think whatever I like” – and by extension, continuing to argue is somehow disrespectful.”

Extract from the article, “No you’re not entitled to your opinion.”

To continue an informed debate about a subject, any subject, we need to keep focus of which news stream we wish to target, be a part of, and spend our energy. A subject such as carers (note: as in for Carer Support – who I work for), in the critical areas we support, needs an informed debate, not a mainstream sensationalised spin.

To stay relevant and enter or simply re-enter the media world, the tips were simple. Here’s 6 from the day:

  1. Build your profile if you haven’t already done so (Google yourself or your organisation and you will soon see how good that profile is).
  2. Make sure you have a decent bio and head shot when people stumble over you online.
  3. Write. Write. Write.
  4. Be proactive with disseminating your writings. Write an opinion piece and seek out avenues to share it. Pitch your article or story to journalists still lucky to have a decent day job (with 4 to 1 PR people to journalists, they don’t have the time to research as much as you and might appreciate your assistance in filling their daily quota with your content).
  5. Be reactive with your writings by responding to articles read.
  1. And finally, my passion… use the social medias to raise your voice.

No longer just word of mouth, the internet has brought to our doorstep, world of mouth. Don’t be scared, be prepared. This is a shifting paradigm (haven’t we heard that enough yet?) where everything is fast paced (blink and you’ll miss it in the newsfeed) and a Goldfish now has a longer attention span. Seriously.

Thank you to Carer Support for sending me along.

It got me thinking “what inspires a person to care … and then share?


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