The Need for Strategic Thinking in the 60-Second News Cycle -- Plus, 5 Tips for Thinking Fast

With the information explosion, especially in social media, in the past five years, public relations professionals have become an invaluable part of strategic planning for both corporations and nonprofits.

Joseph Cohen, national chair-elect for the Public Relations Society of America, shared what this means for the public relations field, which has experienced about an average 10 percent growth for the past two years as an industry.

Speaking at the Roanoke PRSA meeting in late 2013, Cohen said this provides many opportunities, but also many challenges as PR needs to continue to evolve as the way people use media continues to evolve.

No longer should PR pros just think like journalists. 

They need to think like CEOs, media users, journalists – myriad audiences who will be interested in and affected by an organization’s messages. We must also consider a 60-second news cycle that was not long ago a 24-hour news cycle.

I agree. Here are my five tips to thinking with the 60-second news cycle:

  1. Think in 140 characters or less. That’s the secret of Twitter. As attention spans get shorter, so does the opportunity for communicators to connect with their audiences.  
  2. Plan ahead — as much as possible. Know your brand and key messages. When that’s always top of mind, it’s easier to avoid missteps. 
  3. Avoid cumbersome review policies. Remember the Super Bowl blackout of 2013 and that cute Oreo commercial? If it had gone through reviews and redrafts, it would have missed the magic "dunkable" moment.
  4. But always review. Never post something that’s only been read or written by one person. We all have lapses in judgment. See how others react.
  5. Build a team that’s creative, nimble and ready 24/7. This one’s a bit harder, but you’re only as good as your team. So make sure you have the right people on the bus. 

Check out this PRSA video to learn why organizations need strategic thought partners now and for the future:  

Donna Dunn, lives in Forest, Va., and regularly attends the PRSA chapter meeting in Roanoke, Va. A former newswoman, Donna loves helping Rhudy & Co. clients find creative ways to tell their own stories.