At the end of 2016, I wrote a Buzz Bin post that detailed predictions for the media relations industry as well as suggestions for navigating it. In it, I referenced more opportunities for working with digital staffers at traditional media publications.

Thinking back to that comment, I realized this evolution occurred faster than I expected.

Just last week, I was asked to give a presentation on the evolving media landscape and to do so, I dug into what other colleagues have experienced recently in their media relations efforts. One of the common themes across different sectors, verticals and media types, was the changing role of the traditional journalist.

As PR practitioners, we’re expected to sell a persuasive story to an influential third-party storyteller — the journalist. He or she, in turn, is the keeper of that narrative. They will ultimately narrate your story to your key stakeholders.

That’s a lot of power, right?

If we’re handing over control of our message, then I feel our responsibility as professionals involves acknowledging how that journalist’s needs, wants and motivations may change the way they filter our pitch.

Enter… the Engagement Editor.

Who is this Engagement Editor? According to a recent story from Cosmetic Executive Women, an Engagement Editor is a “newly minted role… that is a hybrid of specialized content creation and accountability for garnering audience, or views, a digital brand’s bread and butter when it comes to revenue.”

And what do they want? What drives them? Engaging, click-worthy stories.

So, how does this new face shift your approach in pitch efforts? And what might this mean for earned media’s role down the line for your business? Below are several thought starters for your consideration.

  • The Engagement Editor is Church and State Agnostic. This person reports for both the publishing and editorial sides of the media business. They may even support sponsored and native content too. That means 1) you need to consider whether paid media has a role in your marketing approach and 2) if you decide it doesn’t, pitches need to capture attention quickly and intensely in order for this editor to consider it for earned instead of paid content.
  • The Evergreen Pitch is Dead. This editor’s success is judged on clicks, comments and shares. An evergreen story about why your product is a fit for July 4th doesn’t cut it anymore. Toss the evergreen pitches and invest in determining what your attention-grabbing headline could be and how to get there.
  • Social Media Pitches Rise to the Top. In its piece, CEW acknowledged that one of the biggest responsibilities of an engagement editor is interacting with social media communities and creating content specifically tailored for them. That’s why a successful pitch effort of ours recently involved only offering Facebook Live interviews and Instagram stories. Before you pitch, think about how your story could translate to an outlet’s social platforms.
  • Their SEO Needs are Our SEO Needs. At most outlets, editors are given performance reports, which includes insight into how readers interact with their site’s content and what they search for most. We might not be able to access that information, but your PR teams should be tapping SEO specialists to help guide them on what matters most to your audience, and how your media pitches could evolve based on that data.
  • Media Relations Isn’t Always the Answer. I’d be remiss to ignore the fact that sometimes, regardless of how hard a media relations team could try, earned media might not be for you. And you know what? That’s ok. With this evolving landscape comes the need for a reality check. Today’s media arena requires compelling, strong, insight-driven, engaging (socially and otherwise), minimally-branded narratives. If that’s not attainable as an organization, it’s worth considering a stronger focus on owned, paid or shared approaches to your business.

Looking for ways to make your stories reach these key engagement editors? Need a little help digging deep to mine that narrative? Our media relations experts at Padilla have got you covered. Email Tracy Carlson to get the conversation started.

Source: Journalism (and Beauty’s) New Frontier: The Engagement Editor, CEW (subscription required)