Technology is the common denominator in most dynamic aspects of our modern world. This iRenaissance, led by millions of tech-savvy generation y’ers, is changing the way we approach many facets of life––news consumption being no exception. Prior to the digital age, the media typically gathered the bulk of its news via tips and relied on its large internal staff to supplement and run the stories. Depending on the magnitude and scope of those local stories, they may make their way into national news. While the push techniques of traditional media sources were effective, they were, at times, slow and therefore unadaptable to the digital revolution of the fast-paced, impatient, and news-hungry world that the Internet would pioneer.
As the landscape of traditional media shifts, so does the allocation of budgets towards human capital. According to the Pew Research Center’s 2013 Annual Report on American Journalism, these cutbacks are cause for public concern. “This adds up to a news industry that is more undermanned and unprepared to uncover stories, dig deep into emerging ones or to question information put into its hands,” they write. With newsroom layoffs becoming more and more frequent, it is now even harder for media outlets to respond to the ever-growing demand from the public. Our evolution into this digital age has forced us to change our way of thinking from one of a primarily traditional mass media production to one that can adapt to the interactive online ecosystem.
Breaking Through Fertile Ground
Today, the Internet connects individuals with not only the platform for expressing their opinions, but also an active audience with shapeable perceptions. The simplicity of blogging technologies has enabled millions of individuals to have a voice, creating fertile ground for a new and dynamic process of newsflow. The Annual Report on American Journalism confirms this hypothesis, “…newsmakers and others with information they want to put into the public arena have become more adept at using digital technology and social media to do so on their own, without any filter by the traditional media.” As this platform continues to grow and change, it will become increasingly important for individuals to understand how they can make an impact.
Blogging engenders an incredible sense of community and engagement. Distinct groups are developing rapidly in all pockets of the web. Sports enthusiasts, new mothers, political pundits, health advocates, you name it––there are thousands of niche groups with massive influence producing content 24/7/365. These blogs are the key drivers of news in today’s world. Before a story lands in The Post Standard, CNBC, or The New York Times in 2013, it has already been discussed and shaped in the blogosphere. Tastemakers within respective communities start the dialogue by sharing their opinion on an issue. In a viral grassroots fashion, hundreds of other bloggers quickly react and respond to tastemakers’ posts, rapidly amplifying the information. As a result, a highly influential critical mass is employed around an issue, eventually permeating into mainstream conversations and ultimately disseminating throughout national news media.
Shaping Your Own Perception
So what does this new blog-driven, pull-model of newsflow mean for brands and individuals? For better or worse, it means that the reputation and perception of an entity can be influenced more quickly and easily than ever before.
Terakeet has mastered the ability to penetrate and navigate this new world for our clients. We help organizations, brands, and individuals access those audiences and influencers who shape the way perceptions transcend common knowledge by providing a uniquely integrative approach to earned web visibility.
Our digital advocacy services focus on leveraging custom messaging to spread influence amongst targeted audiences in support of a goal or cause. Anchored by our proprietary technology, we are able to bridge the gap between brands and consumers with scale, proactively engaging key influencers and mobilizing online constituencies to shape brand perception. We work to build a variety of authoritative blog placements; garnering a natural dialogue, sparking conversations, debunking myths, and generating positive brand awareness––ultimately resulting in valuable earned media.
Taking a Closer Look
For those with less experience in the SEO realm, this concept might be easier to understand after obtaining a more in-depth understanding of our work via an anecdotal case study. Let’s take Company A for example. Company A is a global leader in their respective vertical, but has recently struggled to effectively connect with their end consumer and manage the negative online perception of their brand––subsequently resulting in a sizeable loss in market share to their main competitor. Company A’s biggest hurdle to overcome was bridging the gap to their consumers and creating a more personal brand relationship. While Company A is a leader in their field, they struggled with relating to their end consumers, creating a large disconnect and little dialogue between the two sides.
Company A engaged Terakeet to help with this tall task. In this case, our team quickly realized that the key to shifting perception was to target the influencers in this niche space. However, we didn’t just focus our strategies on the end consumer. We took the “spider chart” approach, maintaining the idea that we must make an impact on not only the targeted market, but those who influence that group of people as well. If we were able to create a meaningful and sustainable connection with various tastemakers and collaborate to publish positive material on their blogs, we would in turn establish credibility with their readership––creating a sort of “controlled virality” as I like to call it. It was about taking action at the grassroots level, reaching those individuals that are personally connected to their readers and invoking ongoing participation with their audiences. Our approach focused on creating an online human presence on behalf of Company A, allowing them to close that former rift. Five blogs quickly turned to 10, and 10 to 20, and before we knew it, we were on hundreds of highly relevant and authoritative blogs––eventually seeing the fruits of our labor bloom into earned mainstream media placements.
At the end of this initial six month campaign, we landed Company A’s messaging in front of over 20 million people. It’s important to clarify that these 20 million people weren’t just any random assortment of citizens. These aren’t the half-assed, ad-saturated, potentially interested sampling you might get from an ad in a newspaper or a 30-second spot on CNN. No, these are the passionate, active, and highly relevant stakeholders that truly care about the subject matter related to Company A’s products and services. Safe to say we positively influenced the digital perception of their brand.
Building Your Own Platform
Gone are the days when the public’s only capacity for expressing their views was limited to the opinion column in a local newspaper. The Internet has presented many new, albeit challenging, opportunities for brands to effectively reach and persuade the general public (don’t worry, we’re up to the challenge). As a byproduct of digital advocacy, a unique and sustainable platform is built, one that acts as a conduit to the mainstream media, therefore satisfying contemporary newsflow. Because of the personal nature of these fostered blog relationships, brands are now able to leverage the platform to engage a critical mass for all future communication initiatives that may arise. The next time Company A has a new communications campaign, changing product, or even a crisis, they have a network of thousands of influential and engaged customers at their fingertips.
The process by which we consume our media has drastically changed and will no doubt change again. By depending less on major news outlets to provide the narrative, we all have an opportunity to play a larger role. The web allows public discourse to become just that: public. News is now being pulled from the smaller corners of the world and is being guided by individuals whose voice was previously stifled by the old ways of news. While this shift may seem a little scary––with ongoing cutbacks and erosion of conventional reporting resources––news consumers must rise to the occasion.
In order to fully understand the opportunity at hand, we must examine its upside. Mainstream media today is far more accessible given the new-age newsflow now involving blogs and social media. Successfully channeling this mindset with pointed and sustainable communication strategies is crucial to positively shaping the digital perception of brands, organizations, and individuals. While the landscape of the digital age is ever-changing, and although occasionally overwhelming, we’re happy to help you navigate it.