Disturbing Media Trend #3: Exclusive

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By Gerard Braud

Who would have ever thought that your media interview would be proclaimed by the television news media as an exclusive, when your interview might only be a run-of-the-mill, routine interview?

Day and night we see the television news media proclaiming in words and news banner graphics that an interview or news story is an exclusive.

During my days as a television reporter, we defined “exclusive” two ways. In it’s purest form, an exclusive is an interview that all the other media wanted to have, but that no other media could get. The interview also revealed groundbreaking information that impacted the audience significantly.

Another example of an exclusive may be an investigative report that revealed information other media outlets were unable to obtain.

These days, television producers and anchors call something “exclusive” simply because the other media NBC EXCLUSIVEoutlets don’t have it, even when the information is insignificant to the audience or fails to reveal any groundbreaking information.

These television stations will call a traditional one-on-one interview an exclusive. For example, if television station XYZ interviews the city’s mayor in a random interview and the other stations have no desire or need to interview the mayor, station XYZ calls it exclusive. By my standards, this is a disturbing news media trend.

If the mayor had told station XYZ he or she was resigning during that run-of-the-mill interview, then that would be big news and that would be an exclusive.

NBC NEWS EXCLUSIVEIf you are in public relations or communications, this trend could impact the company, non-profit organization or government agency you work for. You must be aware that any ordinary interview might get blown out of proportion by your local television station. This means a rather insignificant amount of information might get more attention than it deserves.

On the other hand, you may have an issue that no media really wants to cover, because the event fails to be significantly groundbreaking. Yet, if you offer that report to a reporter with the promise that they can have an exclusive, you may get coverage.

There is a serious danger in offering media an exclusive. Sometimes the other media outlets feel you intentionally snubbed them. This may cause them to ignore your organization in the future. It may also cause them to be slightly biased against your organization and perhaps portray you in a more negative light.

TODAY SHOW EXCLUSIVEExclusives are a growing problem. Proceed with caution.

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Disturbing News Trend #4: Trending Now

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By Gerard Braud

“Trending today” or “trending now” are phrases I hate to hear on television news. If news is defined as information that allows us to make smarter, more informed decisions, then a trending video of a cat playing with string is not news.

Each day there is less news on news programs. News is increasingly replaced by entertainment and info-tainment.

I can’t believe I’m about to say this, but I’m starting to miss the days when the adage applied, “When it bleeds it leads.” This phrase meant the newscast lead, or started, usually with a violent event or natural disaster that resulted in injuries or the loss of life.

Trending, on the other hand, requires little or no news gathering skills. It only requires the regurgitation and re-posting of something from the Internet. In most cases, it is a viral video or a hot topic that the anonymWhats Trending Newsous, faceless, social media world feels compelled to pass judgment upon.

Both the Today Show and Good Morning America have cordoned off sections of their studio specifically to share what is trending on social media. Both are actively trying to engage their viewers with links and hashtags. What is sad about this trend is that people who are active on social media don’t need to turn to television news to know what is trending. At the same time, the networks are sending more viewers away from network broadcasts and into the social media realm. This move may mean increased web traffic and more income from online advertisements. However, in the long run this is pushing more people away from the viewership and revenue of the current and future traditional news broadcast.

Often, what is trending is mindless. Social media users are commenting about a photo of a fashion model who is too skinny or a celebrity who said something that offended a portion of the audience.

The impact this has on you, if you are in public relations or communications, is that your effort to get news coverage for the corporation, non-profit organization or government agency, for which you work, continues to get harder.

Today Show Orange RoomYour legitimate news may not get covered at all because producers have already filled their allotted time in the newscast with fluff.

The fluff is appealing to the media because it is a low cost way to fill a newscast. This low cost fluff is already known to be popular with the public. In a day when advertising revenues are falling and the size of the news staff is getting smaller, trending fluff is a solution to the media’s short-term problems.

What the media fails to recognize is that the trend of trending is really exposing an increasing number of people to places on the internet where information or entertainment can be gathered for free. This leaves the audience with less need for the original media outlet and the advertisers on the media outlet’s website and news broadcast.

From a pro-active public relations standpoint, you will be under increasing pressure to make your public relations events trend. This adds one extra layer to an already complicated process of pitching a story to the media. It also adds one more point upon which you will be judged. Hence, when you fail to get media coverage, you’ll be scrutinized over your pitching efforts and your social media efforts.

Today show orange roomThe reality of what gets news coverage is really based on the point of view of a producer, who has a limited amount of time in a newscast and fills it with the things they think the audience will talk about the most. Producers can be fickle. I fought with them daily in the newsroom when I was a reporter. Often, they were Jeckle and Hyde; I never knew which I was getting on any given day.

But the bottom line is trending things get selected by those producers for inclusion in the newscast, taking precedent over things a true journalist would consider to be real news.

Trending is a trend I could do without. Sadly, it will be with us for a very long time.

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Breaking News is Broken and there is Nothing Breaking: Disturbing Media Trend #2

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By Gerard Braud

News media copycats make life more difficult in the world of crisis communications and public relations. More than ever before, your small crisis can get undue media coverage because of the latest disturbing media trend.

Disturbing news media trend #2 is the breaking news trend. CNN is the king of using the “breaking news” banner and verbal exclamation by their news anchors. Fox News is the king of using the phrase “news alert.” But it doesn’t take long, in the land of few original ideas, also known as TV news land, for other news stations to copy what they see the “big boys” are doing. Local television stations open nearly every newscast with both verbal and graphic exclamations, proclaiming the first story of the newscast as breaking news.

As a former journalist, during my time in the television news business, “breaking news” was used to describe an event that was happening or “breaking” at that very second. A fire, an explosion, a shooting are breaking news.

Daily show Mocks CNNSadly, this new disturbing trend slaps the breaking news moniker on whatever the first story of the newscast is, even if the event happened hours before. In many cases the issue is already resolved with no new information.

In other words, the breaking news is not breaking and breaking news is broken.

During CNN’s non-stop speculation coverage of the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines 370, CNN even proclaimed breaking news about, “new speculation about what might have happened.” Yes, CNN combined two disturbing media trends at the same time – the breaking news trend combined with the excessive speculation trend. It was truly a low point in the world of television news.

BREAKING NEWS CNNThis disturbing trend toward excessive use of the breaking news banner has profound effects on every corporation, non-profit organization or government agency, and their public relations teams. Things that are little crises might easily get portrayed as a much bigger crisis.

How do you deal with this? Your crisis communications plan, your media interview skills, and your media monitoring need to be better than they have ever been. Your need to respond quickly as soon as an event occurs is more important than ever. You can’t afford to linger in your response and allow the media to blow things out of proportion.

Now is the time to:

1) revise your crisis communications plan

2) make sure a crisis communications drill is conducted at least once a year, which includes mock news conferences

3) make sure all spokespeople go through media training at least once a year

4) make sure you are using the latest media monitoring tools (I’m super impressed with the I.Q. Media platform)

To watch “7 Disturbing News Media Trends and How You Can Combat Them” On Demand click here