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Press service: for what, for whom and why

Wednesday, 19 January 2022

Usually, when it comes to the press service, there is an association with a representative of the White House, who on behalf of the President holds a briefing for journalists and reporters, answers questions and is fully responsible for the public perception of the described actions of the head of state. However, such a unit as the press service has long existed not only in government agencies. In this article, we will examine in detail the functionality of the unit, for which industries and areas need specialists in this area, as well as – which ones.

Press service functionality

The main activity of the unit is interaction with the press on behalf of the representative – a public authority, enterprise, legal entity. Specialists of the press service maintain contacts with the press, create information materials to cover the activities of the organization, provide comments and observe the mentions of the organization or person in public with the help of media monitoring. C: One of the main goals of the unit is to provide the maximum number of publications, TV and radio programs that contain PR information about the authority / company / person, as well as about the activities of the object according to the information drive. The press service unit can be formed of several specialists who are responsible for specific areas, such as: author of texts, author of speeches, analyst, PR-manager and press secretary, who, in fact, holds a managerial position in the department. In large organizations, the number of specialists in the unit can reach more than 20 people, but in smaller structures, the function of the press service is performed by one specialist – the press secretary. The functions of the press service can be divided into key vectors: Building Media Relations. These include conducting interviews, writing and distributing press releases and information articles, preparing and announcing press conferences, conducting and monitoring briefings, writing and sending post-releases with key information. Sometimes communication with the press is done by an individual – a media manager, but the activities of a media manager are controlled by a press secretary and adjusted according to the information strategy. Maintaining a media base / press base. Employees of the press service are in constant contact with journalists and reporters, so they have to periodically update the databases with contact details of media managers. Create a positive image of the organization and / or the individual. Usually, the key messages that are part of the information strategy are transmitted through publications in the media, activities on television, radio. The set of measures taken forms an opinion in the audience, which interacts with information channels and disseminates to the masses. Preparation of media reviews for the head of the organization. Media and media are constantly evolving, especially in the digital space, so media monitoring is an important part of the daily process of every communications specialist. Media monitoring takes place in several areas: mentions of the brand and / or a specific person and the tone of these mentions (positive, negative, neutral), as well as monitoring of side topics related to the organization. Speechwriting and Preparing for Speeches. How an organization and / or a particular person is represented in the information space affects the public image, and therefore preparation for speeches, press conferences and briefings takes place with a communication specialist who needs to understand which statements and messages are worth speaking and which can. be potentially in crisis. Speeches for representatives of organizations are often written entirely by press secretaries, based on the theses of the speaker himself. [[::facebook::]] Formation of corporate culture. Preparation and publication of a corporate magazine, organization of events that are directly related to the work of employees. Similarly, in large organizations and structures, corporate and social communications can be handled by an individual, or even a department that fully controls this vector. Generate responses to requests for information from journalists and media representatives. The task of the press secretary can be a thorough response to the request. Often, in order to fully respond to a journalist’s information request, it is necessary to create internal inquiries in the relevant departments of the company and even conduct internal investigations. Maintaining the corporate website of the organization. Or at least a news block. The technical tasks are usually handled by other departments, but when the organization and / or the person are public, the press secretary must review and approve all the information presented on the external communication channels. As a result, some organizations outsource this task to a communications professional, and filling the site with content becomes a major responsibility. However, more and more often press secretaries play only an intermediate role in this process: they agree on the materials presented on the website and on the pages of social networks. C: A press release is an informational message that contains news about an organization or person or position on a socially important issue. The press release is an information guide for the media and is distributed for publication by press secretaries, members of the press service or simply the person in charge of public relations. Communications with the media also take place through events. These can be specialized and thematic forums and events, which in themselves serve as information drives. There are also a number of press events to discuss specific topics, organized by the press service or the press secretary.

  1. Briefing. During the briefing there is a brief meeting of representatives of organizations or individuals with journalists or other members of the media. At the briefing, the official position on a certain issue, information on the progress of work or negotiations, a digest of conferences or meetings, a summary of a specific event, etc. are expressed in a concise form. Often after the briefing, the press secretary provides journalists with thesis files that journalists can then use to create their own material.
  2. Press conference. Like a briefing, it is an event for the media, which presents the position of a company, organization or individual on a particular occasion. However, unlike the briefing, the format of the press conference is not concise: journalists have the opportunity to ask questions and get detailed answers.
  3. Breakfast. A more informal but important format, especially at the start of a public organization or person. Representatives of the mass media are invited to the press breakfast, the event is moderated by a press secretary, but the main figure of the event is a representative of the organization or an individual. During the press breakfast, contact is established with journalists: media workers go beyond the editorial office and have the opportunity to discuss troubling issues in an informal setting, as well as to discuss the position of the editorial offices on certain issues. C: Regular breakfasts and snacks allow you to maintain warm contact with the media and increase their loyalty.
  4. Prestur. Prestur is more often used by commercial organizations as an opportunity not only to tell about the company’s activities, but also to show the details of production (if any). Excursion events, branded products and speakers at different stages of the tour, which express the company’s position. After the event, the press secretary or the press service staff also have the opportunity to provide information to journalists, which is later released in press releases.

Government organizations and local authorities also use this way of interacting with journalists in their strategies when organizing trips to sites of different scale and importance, regional tourist routes, etc.

External Press Service

According to Stirista research, during the pandemic, the market for outsourcing services is becoming increasingly popular: more and more organizations prefer external specialists, whose activities are necessary for business development or structure, but are not urgently needed for staffing. These areas can also include the activities of the press service, the functionality of which can be partially or completely closed by PR-specialists with experience in reputation management in political, non-profit, business structures. In this case, the contract clearly regulates the vectors of work, which are assigned to external specialists. Most often, experts from scratch create a strategy to achieve goals, such as: [[::instagram::]] Information strategy. It is usually formed according to the needs of the customer, but the unifying features are the formation of the media base, approval of public positioning of the structure or person, portraits of the target audience, key messages and criteria for evaluating the effectiveness of this strategy. As a rule, the global goal of the strategy is the visibility of the organization and a positive image in the public space. PR strategy. If the information strategy is about forming the image of the organization, then PR is more about reputation. PR specialists conduct a detailed analysis of the organization or person, on the basis of which they build a strategy, the implementation of which will gradually close the main goal. PR-strategy includes information strategy as a component, and among the tasks there is also a leveling of the negative image, crisis management and system reputation management. Communication strategy (matrix). This product can combine several areas, including: PR, information vector, marketing communications, digital communication, brand communication, etc. Therefore, when it comes to the complexity of communications, organizations need to spend more resources on building units that will cover all needs. Cooperation with external specialists is more complete, as more specialists in different areas are working on the project.

Media monitoring

Media monitoring is one of the main tools of PR and communication specialists. When dealing with public and information space, it is necessary to carefully monitor the tone of the organization’s mentions in order to be able to respond in a timely manner and avoid the consequences of the crisis. The modern market has a wide range of proposals for automating the process of media monitoring: specialists themselves choose convenient tools and services for tracking mentions and tones. Monitoring findings are also one of the performance indicators measured by press service specialists. Tracking media reports on a given topic is used to track the effectiveness of PR, media, information campaigns, as well as to assess the public action, event, project of the company or person. The results of media monitoring are also often a starting point for the start of public events and the implementation of information or PR strategy, through which you can further measure the effectiveness of work. The distribution of mentions by tone will also allow us to observe the trend of mentions of the organization or representative and how these indicators change during the implementation of certain activities. [[::telegram::]] There are several tools for implementing media monitoring and we will describe those that have been used in Perfect PR at different times for 10 years:

  1. Manually search for an organization or person by keyword. Thus, through the search engine you can filter the query and find recent references in the press. However, this method has more disadvantages than advantages. For example, time consuming: now most processes can be simplified, automated and digitalized, so manual work will take more time than performing the same tasks with specially designed systems.
  2. Infostream – news monitoring technology. A simple system that checks the latest news for key queries and focuses on their key. This technology has been used by Perfect PR specialists for a long time, but with the expansion of the client portfolio and staff, Infostream’s functionality was lacking. The main disadvantage of the system is the high percentage of manual work and additional checks for the relevance of mentions. However, working with other services, we still return to Infostream as an additional tool with which you can quickly check the info field for the presence and tone of mentions, for example, a potential customer.
  3. YouScan is the system we switched to when we felt the need to research in detail for our clients and partners the info field in social media. YouScan can be configured to monitor key phrases, words, topics, as well as add words that, on the contrary, should not be ignored. You can connect chatbots to your system and receive instant notifications of new mentions in groups, publics, and even comments to be able to respond quickly.
  4. Looqme is a system that, unlike YouScan, has enhanced functionality across monitoring sites. In addition to social media, this system also provides information on mentions in the print media, radio, television, which is a great advantage for a specialist who builds the image and reputation of the organization or individual client.

The Ukrainian market of monitoring systems is constantly expanding and updating. As a result, telegram bots appear that monitor according to keywords and queries. Telegram bots are much cheaper than a subscriber subscription to one of the above systems, but the functionality is limited. There is no clear recommendation on which system to use. Specialists choose the means that are convenient for them that can meet most needs. The choice of monitoring system is an analytical work at the very beginning, because from the resources available on the market it is necessary to choose a technology that will meet the requirements of the project, organization, person. However, as a tool, the media monitoring system is clearly at the top of the list of PR or press secretary.

Press service or PR agency?

One of the tasks of the press service is to ensure quick access of journalists, contractors and stakeholders to verified and up-to-date information about the company, organization or person. The advantage of the internal press service is full immersion in the life of the organization, quick access to speakers who can provide a comment or position on the situation. Separately, you can add knowledge of the subject and, accordingly, the industry media, with which you need to build contact. But a PR agency can be an auxiliary tool in building the work of the internal press service, or the main tool for creating such a unit in the organization. PR agencies have an understanding of how the press service should work, what vectors should be developed through this work, as well as how to effectively form a dialogue with journalists, opinion leaders, bloggers and stakeholders. In addition, agency specialists know the metrics by which to evaluate the effectiveness of a department or unit. Perfect PR Agency has experience in comprehensive media support of organizations and individuals and provides outsourced information support services for 10 years. Also, our specialists can build the structure of the press service department, conduct comprehensive training of the organization’s specialists, and select a qualified specialist to implement public relations work.

Author: Olena Paplynska