Communications should focus on quality, not clicks

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Two people working outside, reading a newspaper and working on a laptop

Let’s start with the obvious: media has changed in the last decade. There are more outlets, which are all desperate for content. Journalists are increasingly time poor. And an article’s success is mostly measured in clicks and shares.

PR has been quick to take advantage of this, providing journalists with stories optimised for fast paced newsrooms with little time for fact checking.

A golden age for PR you might say – more opportunities and less oversight than ever.

I disagree. The decline of quality journalism is bad for everyone. Client coverage volumes are up, but so much of it is dross.

The problem is this. If a publication’s success in measured in clicks, then said publication will prefer 1000 clicks on a fun survey, from junior staff (or dare I say 1000 PRs trawling trade websites for ideas), than 50 clicks from the C-suite – people with actual influence - on an in-depth report on the state of the industry. So PRs develop low brow clickable content, journalists run it, lots of people click, metrics are met, a few smiles are raised, but no-one gets any real value. The media becomes a race to the bottom.

For any serious B2B communicator wanting to reach people of influence, there is little value in this clickbait. But it is the easiest way for PR's to get lots of coverage, so as long as we are judged on coverage numbers or ‘reach’, rather than who and how we influence, PR is incentivised to aim for the lowest common denominator.

If we want to offer clients real value, we should start with something useful, interesting and insightful. A snap survey will be forgotten tomorrow. An in depth report with credible data - which examines industry challenges and offers informed and practical solutions - will deliver value for months, and can underpin not just PR, but marketing, sales and events. Sharing hard-won industry insights will resonate better than wrapping a key message in 1000 words of drivel.

Good insight will reach the right people with just a little push. It will improve your chances of getting into publications that people actually value. And even if it only makes it into lower circulation publications – if it's good content, the right people will still find it, since Google, LinkedIn and Twitter’s algorithms ensure people are connected to things that are relevant to them.

Furthermore, good content will also spark their interest when the email marketing campaign hits their inbox, or they see a banner ad or a promoted tweet. And when they read it, they will share it.

Communication too often focuses on reaching people. But that is just the channel. The real value lies in saying something that the right people want to reach them.

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