Highlights from the T3PR Conference

Last week was the PRSA T3PR Conference in New York City.  Attendees gathered from around the country to hear several well-known authorities in PR and social media speak on a variety of topics.  The topics were diverse from Sarah Evans (Sevans Strategy) educating us on what’s next in technology and Justin Levy (New Marketing Labs) updating participants on the very latest Facebook tips to Christine Perkett (PerkettPR) giving new insights on what it takes to become a PR influencer and Ed Schipul (Schipul the Web Marketing Company) educating us on building an online brand.  The conference was captured via the hashtag #techprsa.

Other speakers included Jacob Morgan (Chess Media Group) discussing how PR fits into social CRM, Harjiv Singh (Gutenberg Communications) on crisis communications and Sandra Fathi (Affect Strategies) on effective PR and social media measurement. The audience certainly received a full day of best practices and advice.

Of special note was the luncheon keynote, Nick Bilton, The New York Times tech reporter and lead writer for the NYT bits blog. His discussion was incredibly interesting touching on new technology (even showing visuals of how the brain is affected, as the web savvy individual participates in web surfing) to information on his new book, I Live in the Future: & Here’s How it Works.

A session of tremendous importance to PR professionals was the panel discussion, “The New Era of Blogging.”  Because of the diversity of the bloggers and their news sites, the panel offered PR pros a variety of advice on how to interact with bloggers.

The panel was comprised of four new era bloggers: Joe Ciarallo, editor, PRNewser manager, PR Initiatives at Mediabistro.com (moderator); Adam Ostrow, editor-in-chief, Mashable.com; Sara Polsky, editor, Curbed.com; and Frederick Mwangaguhunga, founder, MediaTakeOut.com

Here are a few of the highlights from the session.  I tried to capture the dialog as closely to the responses as possible.  If I missed anything, please feel free to add additional information in the comments:

Joe: What are you looking for in a story and where do you find leads?

Adam:  Mashable is looking for the story that has a broader reach…we’re looking for connections to current events.

Sara: Curbed gets a lot of reader tips from online discussion boards, for example, Street Easy is great for finding interesting story opportunities.

Fred:  MediaTakeOut finds Twitter to be really helpful.  The majority of our production of the news cycle is during the night and we break stories at 9:30 a.m.  When we have a tip and then we see a tweet about the same thing, it increases the likelihood that it happened.  Twitter gives us the ability to have access to a world of information.

Joe: Does being “new media” allow you to be more racy and does that give an advantage over competitors?

Fred:  MediaTakeOut does have an advantage.  This is the first time I’m in a media company. What would I like to see out there?  Our competitor advantage is that we live, breathe and enjoy a particular culture.  Our culture is exaggerated and somewhat over the top.

Adam:  We have our partnership with CNN.  Mashable syndicates articles to CNN’s new tech section.  It rounds out their tech section very nicely.  There is a big trend toward aggregation and it gives reader a nice mix.

Sara: Curbed competes with New York Magazine, Crains, etc.  We do different types of stories.  Most of our stories include coverage of a specific development or issue.  We give a slightly different slant to the coverage and we are definitely more “snarky.”  Traditional has to speed up its work as a result.  I’m noticing that traditional publications are trying to put things up right away.

Joe: What type of content do you find the most usable?

Adam: Publishing data – we like to receive interesting data from blogs. Getting infographics works too.  They are a great way to get your name out there.  Videos are always appreciated too.

Sara: I prefer multimedia content and images are great too. People call Curbed “real estate porn.”  It’s great when a developer offers photos for a story.

Fred: We get a ton of press releases a day.

Joe: What do you think when story comes out and PR people want to know why their client isn’t in the story [perhaps they are only mentioned in the comments].

Adam: I find new stories in the comments.  At Mashable, we have community managers as well as the writers who go through the comments for potential stories.

[Sara and Fred were in agreement.]

Joe: How has the news story changed?

Fred: With social media, we’ll start the discussion. Then, users on Twitter could break it.

Adam: With the iPhone announcement, you get into more in-depth features.

Sara: We’ll go back a couple of years.  We want to be updated at every stage of the process for multiple stories.

Joe: How much time do you spend on social media platforms?

Adam: Mashable was early to the platforms.  A Twitter audience turned to a Facebook audience.

Sara: Curbed uses Twitter and Facebook. We notice that using the platforms brings in a different set of people to the site.

Fred: Mediatakeout is a news site.  The question is do get our readers to our site or do we want them to be on Twitter and Facebook.  We’re trying to make the content more assessable.  We actually noticed our traffic grew in one month by 30% as a result of Facebook and Twitter.

Joe: Do you think it’s a link economy – do you look to drum up links?

Adam:  Mashable should do more of this.  It really falls on the writer’s responsibility.

Sara: Curbed is small. We tweet our own stories.

Fred: I feel the same way.  We were on the outside of the group.  We grow traffic organically.

Joe: Where do you see your blogs moving to in the future?

Fred: Mediatakeout is always going to be a site that breaks gossip.  Also try to extend the brand into other mediums.  We’re trying to keep it authentic, which is the difficulty.  Our readers want funny, interesting and authentic urban culture.  Sometimes other mediums are not as receptive to authenticity.  We want to do it the right way.

Adam:  Mashable is always going to write about new social platforms that emerge i.e. foursquare.  We’ll expand into more verticals.  Similarly, new forms of content, for example, Internet TV.  We’re ramping up video content…it’s a big opportunity for us to be the next “networks.”  We’re going to see a huge shift in television over the next few years.

Sara:  We’ll expand our content.  Tone and voice are key for us, as we move forward.  Will do a Curbed Inside with photos.  It’s hard to maintain the same approach with video.  We’ll be moving into different types of coverage.

Joe:  Another trend is to compete with wire service (syndicated).  Digital focused companies will look to be the news feed for traditional companies.  This is a trend for AOL, Yahoo!, etc.

That’s a wrap for the panel session.  Leave your comments, additional details and/or questions and let’s continue the conversation!