“I still get excited when I see her.” – by Dan Tapper

“I still get excited when I see her.”

That was said about Denise D’Ascenzo, as I stood with a small group of people at a 2010 free dental clinic event in Middletown. But it wasn’t said by one of the hundreds of clinic attendees who were standing in line when Denise arrived; it was said by one of Denise’s colleagues, a WFSB-Channel 3 reporter.

The free dental clinic was and still is a huge annual event; this one held at the massive former Aetna campus in Middletown. Each year this clinic draws upwards of 2,000 people over the span of one weekend, some of whom come from literally hundreds of miles away for free dental care. For many years Sullivan & LeShane Public Relations, Inc. coordinated the media relations for the clinic, and Channel 3 was the clinic’s media partner in those days. This meant in addition to PSAs and interviews and traditional coverage, Channel 3 would send on-air talent to volunteer at the clinic, and that’s what was happening that day when two Channel 3 reporters and I watched Denise approach.

As Denise walked up she stopped frequently to shake the hands of the people who were waiting in the long lines to get in for the free dental care, smiling and talking with them as if she’d known them for years. And for many of them, I’m sure they felt they had in fact known her for years.

“I still get excited when I see her.”

That struck me then, that one of her colleagues held Denise as such a figure of awe and respect that she chose to utter these words out loud. I understood it completely, because I think so many looked at her that way. Someone whose very presence excited us, lifted us and elevated any room she was in.

And those words strike even more strongly today, as so many of us are reeling from the shocking news of Denise’s sudden and unexpected passing this past Saturday at the age of 61. Connecticut has lost a media icon to be sure, the very best at what she did during the 33 years she did it here. And we’ve lost so much more.

By now I have seen dozens of spectacular tributes to Denise written and aired by friends, colleagues and admirers, many of whom knew her far better than I did. And those tributes talk about her unbending class and effortless grace she brought onto the air and into people’s homes every night. They talk of her beautiful family and how they always came first to her. They talk about her kindness, her commitment to doing her job the right way, her mentorship of so many of her colleagues and of her delightful sense of humor. I saw most of those traits firsthand in the years I knew her, including the humor. One night a few years ago after a formal gala which Denise emceed, she and my wife—both graduates of Syracuse University’s Newhouse School—serenaded me with their school’s alma mater. It was silly and lovely.

There’s one more part of who Denise was that was truly a gift to everyone in Connecticut, something I saw on display that day in Middletown as she worked the line of patients as they waited their turn.

She listened. Denise D’Ascenzo listened to what people said, and it mattered to her.

You could tell it when you watched her interview people. You could tell it when you spoke to her individually, when she would make it clear there was nothing in that moment more important to her than what you were saying. Despite all of the personal accolades and acclaim she had rightly earned in her career, what people had to say to Denise D’Ascenzo seemed to matter as much to her as what she had to say to them. What a gift.

Listening, after all, is one of the most basic and essential tools in journalism and, really, all forms of communications. Communications at its core doesn’t exist without one person saying something and another person hearing what is said; if that second component isn’t there, it’s all just noise. I recall very early in my career as a newspaper reporter—probably in my first week—getting this advice from a co-worker as I somewhat nervously prepared to go cover to one of my first stories:

“Remember to listen carefully and write down what you hear. The first responsibility of a good reporter is to be a good listener—everything else comes from there.”

Denise D’Ascenzo, a journalist without peer in Connecticut, understood that as well as anyone. And she seemed to understand that it didn’t just apply to her time on the air, but to her time with everyone she encountered.  When you watched her on TV you felt she was talking directly to you. And when you talked with her one-on-one she made you feel like the most important person in the world. It’s something special for a journalist to possess that ability. It’s even more of a gift for that person to apply it to every other facet of her life.

The state mourns the loss of a friend today, but we also say thank you to Denise D’Ascenzo. Thank you for sharing so much of yourself with us for the past 33 years, for telling Connecticut’s stories as few ever have. And just as much, Denise, we thank you for listening. To all of us.

Tuesday Tip: Don’t Get Angry, Get Strategic! – by Dan Tapper

Several years ago we had a client that had an issue with certain regulatory bodies and they were feeling a lot of pressure—an investigation was taking place, some wrongdoing had occurred (and been addressed) and the media had gotten wind of it. This client worked in the human services field, serving a vulnerable population, so it was a sensitive area.

This client was livid at the way it thought it was being treated by these regulatory bodies, and told us they wanted to “fight back,” to turn the tables on the ones who were investigating them; to publicly accuse them of being unfair, punitive and biased.

We heard them out and said we understood. Then we told them—as strongly as we could—that they should not do this.

What would lashing out get them, aside from momentarily feeling better for having done it? What would be the point of publicly taking on an investigator, particularly with a vulnerable population at the heart of the matter? If anything, it could have made things move from bad to worse, which is the last thing anyone wanted and the least strategic move they could make.

What to do?

The better strategy would be to communicate key messages in the strongest way possible to the most important audiences. Make it clear that their top priority was working cooperatively with authorities to protect the population being served.

Could the messages be strong? Of course. Could our client defend itself without acting in accusatory manner? Definitely. And they could do so, absent of anger or spite, keeping focus on the welfare of the people they served, rather than engaging in a personal attack on the regulatory bodies.

We have found it always best, when working with clients who have issues to manage, to view the situation the way an objective third party would. That way the emotion can be detached and the situation can be seen with an unjaundiced eye. Again, getting angry might feel good in the short term, but it can have disastrous results long-term.

The client took our advice and the issue faded from the public eye soon enough, with all matters well-resolved. They weren’t wrong to feel angry, but when dealing with a public issue, their strategy had to go beyond that. It may be difficult, but more often than not it pays dividends.

So don’t get angry, at least not in public, even though every impulse inside you may be screaming for you to do that. It’s a far better idea to get strategic!

Tuesday Tip: Be Prepared for Your Next Event by Utilizing After Action Reviews – by Chris Zaccaro

“By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is the noblest, Second: by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.” – Confucius

As you can imagine, planning and managing media events for our clients is big part of the gig here at Sullivan & LeShane Public Relations, Inc. We do it pretty well thanks to two factors: experience and preparation.

With over thirty years of existence as a public relations firm, experience obviously plays a huge part in our success. We’ve seen it all. But the true root of our success comes from our preparation. As Colin Powell said, “There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work and learning from failure.”

Whether the event you managed was a success or total bomb, the job shouldn’t end when you pack up the car. A post-project assessment, an After Action Review to be specific, will always help you with your preparation for the next event—or really any other kind of project.

An After Action Review is a simple method where you get your team together for an honest and open discussion to review and document:
• What went well
• What went wrong
• What you can do in the future to repeat what went well
• What you can do in the future to prevent the same mistakes from happening again

There are a couple of different ways you can document your After Action Review—a simple Google search will provide you options and templates. But know that documenting and storing this process is imperative and it needs to be done within a week of your event. Or else you and your teammates may possibly forget what could be valuable insights for your next project.

What I have found is that this process really helps with remembering the little things that can make a big difference. Such as:

• Remembering to have a water for each speaker at the podium before a media event begins. You don’t want to realize too late and become a distraction as you bring them up while your event is in progress. Or even worse, as your client is desperately searching for a drink during a coughing fit.

• Remembering to take note of where an event is happening and what the conditions may be. If you’re hosting an event outside on a really hot day, you may want to look into remedies for cooling your audience off—like electric fans, a tent or cold refreshments.

• Or remembering to have a solid understanding of how many people will be attending your event so you don’t put out too few or even too many chairs. There’s nothing worse than having a good turnout look like a bad turnout because you put out too many chairs.

Those are just three small instances of many, many instances that could impact your event. Our preparation has helped us in preventing small mistakes like these from happening at our clients’ events and After Action Reviews can help you too.

Of course, you could always just contact Sullivan & LeShane Public Relations and let us handle your event for you. We are prepared for that.

Sage Advice from Tom Andrea on Dressing for a TV Interview – by Chris Zaccaro

Many of the questions we receive from clients before they go into a TV interview revolve around what to wear.

Luckily for us here at Sullivan & LeShane Public Relations we have Tom Andrea, our Strategic Partner who has more than 30 years of public relations experience and is known for his impeccable wardrobe. In 2011 Tom was named one of the region’s best-dressed individuals by Hartford Magazine. In this week’s Tuesday Tip, we ask Tom some of the more common questions clients ask and what advice he would provide them.

Tom Andrea, Strategic Partner at Sullivan & LeShane Public Relations

What should clients be thinking about when picking out their outfit before a television interview?

Tom Andrea: First of all, the clothes you wear should not out-do your message. Make sure you’re not bringing more attention to your outfit than what you’re saying, because then people will miss the interview.

What should I be thinking about in terms of colors or patterns?

Tom Andrea: Don’t let your clothes “holler” at the viewer—meaning stay away from big stripes, big florals, bright colors and multi-patterns. Stay away from plaids. Your colors should be muted—quiet and soft. Also, your clothes should look neat—there’s nothing worse than having a suit or dress that is wrinkled or not properly tailored.

What if I wear a uniform to work? Should I wear that?

Tom Andrea: Yes, if the interview is about your line of work. It shows pride in what you do and the organization you’re affiliated with. But if you’re being interviewed for personal reasons outside of work, like a volunteer role, it’s appropriate to wear clothing that represents the association you volunteer for.

Should I be more concerned with how I look or comfort?

Tom Andrea: I think you should be concerned about both, it should be about comfort and how it wears on you. In this day in age of dressing down, it’s still important to dress up for an interview. Remember that the anchors that are interviewing you are dressed up, you should look the same as they do.

The only time I think you don’t have to worry about your appearance is if you’re doing an interview during a hurricane or something. Then, obviously, you need to protect yourself from the elements. But there are no such elements within a TV studio!

Speaking of hurricanes or major events like that, what if the interview is set to take place outside in cold weather?

Tom Andrea: The location of the interview doesn’t make a difference—you’re still representing yourself and the organization you’re associated with. If you’re outside in cold weather doing an interview, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with wearing a heavy coat, scarf and gloves—even a hat if you have to. Just make sure you look professional.

What are some things that studio guests commonly forget about or realize right before an interview?

Tom Andrea: I find women have this down pat a lot more than men. I’ve had clients who need help straightening their ties before going on camera. You should make sure your jacket or coat is buttoned properly.

I’ve seen many people dressed well for an interview, but their grooming did a disservice to their clothing preparation. There’s a lot to be said for combed hair and, for men, a clean shaven appearance. That will benefit you on camera.

Studios usually have makeup and wardrobe rooms for anchors, reporters and even guests. Don’t hesitate to ask if you can use them and feel free to bring in your own combs, brushes, makeup or whatever to do some last minute prep before the cameras roll.

By the way, I think the same rules apply when your photo is being taken to accompany a print piece about you or your organization. Impressions do matter.

Any other useful tips for anybody that may have a TV interview coming up?

Tom Andrea: Your look should complement the anchor that’s interviewing you. Beforehand, view the TV station that you’re going to appear on so you can get a look and feel for how the anchors are dressing.

In case there is a long or wide shot of you sitting or standing, make sure your shoes and socks reinforce your professionalism and compliment the outfit that you’re wearing by being clean and in good shape. One of the worst fashion developments is this new trend of wearing a suit with sneakers. Leave the sneakers in the gym bag and bring a nice pair of clean, polished shoes with you.

Another new trend is very colorful socks. If you’re not the sock maker or trying to sell that product, keep your socks in line with your outfit. This goes back to one of my original points. Colorful, bouncy socks with a muted suit will bring too much attention to your ankles and the viewers will be focused on that and not what you’re saying.

Tuesday Tip: Lessons From the Space Race – Often Times the Simplest Message Works the Best – by Dan Tapper

Last month’s 50th anniversary of the Apollo XI moon landing, coupled with work we did recently with an aerospace client to commemorate the work they did in designing space suits for that mission and others, put us in mind of a great lesson in public relations that came from the epochal Space Race.

The lesson? Sometimes the simplest of messages will resonate the loudest. And the message from that amazing time? Just three words uttered by Gus Grissom, one of the original Mercury 7 astronauts who later was part of the Apollo program before tragically dying in a fire on the eve of the Apollo I launch in 1967.

“Do good work.”

Back in the early 1960s when the race to the moon between the United States and the Soviet Union was just heating up, American companies across the board went to work building the spacecrafts and equipment the astronauts would need to get them there and back. Often times astronauts—who justifiably had achieved “rock star” status—would visit the plants where the equipment was being built to deliver “pep talks” to the people who were working to get them into outer space.
It was on one of these tours of a Convair pant where Grissom was asked to say a few words. He was never big on public speaking, and with the workers assembled in front of him, he simply uttered the first thing that popped into his mind: “Do good work.”

Simple. To the point. Perfect.

The engineers at Convair loved it. So much so that “Do Good Work” became a mantra for them and others, a slogan that would spread to other aerospace companies. Signs and posters reading “Do good work” would soon enough be found in factories and offices throughout the industry, as thousands of people worked tirelessly win the race to the moon.

It is a lesson in the very essence of strategic communications—the ability to communicate the right message, no matter how simple, to the right audience. Gus Grissom never considered himself much of a communicator, but he said a mouthful that day, one that resonated long after he was gone.

Original Mercury 7 Astronauts in Spacesuits – Courtesy of NASA Image & Video Library

We’ve seen plenty of our own examples of such simplicity doing the trick with our clients. One of our clients is a senior care provider, and when we first began working with them, we were trying to capture the true spirit of everything they were able to do for seniors—it encompassed a wide range of services, and the point was anyone with any questions on senior care should simply call them first.

And thus a key message was born: “Call us first.” Three words that said so much more.

Who knows what our next “moonshot” will be, the next project that will inspire a nation and energize a citizenry to aim beyond our wildest dreams. Whatever that next great project is, it will need to be embraced by the masses, and will need to get them galvanized around common goals and memorable messages.

And who knows? Maybe it will be another message as simple as “Do good work” that will get things moving. We know it’s worked before, and that means it can work again.

Upcoming Changes to Facebook’s Mobile News Feed – by Chris Zaccaro

Facebook just announced some changes are coming to the mobile news feed for business pages—changes you will want to prepare for by the time they take effect on Monday, August 19th. Here’s what’s in store, and how to make the most of the changes.

1. First, your posts and ads are going to be limited to three lines of primary text. Meaning if the copy you developed takes up more than three lines, your followers are going to have to click on a “see more” prompt to read your entire message.

2. The other change coming to Facebook is the maximum height for photos and videos. It’s going to be reduced down to 4:5 on mobile news feeds. This means that if you post a photo or video that goes beyond this ratio, it’s going to be masked.

Why this is happening:

With these changes Facebook is hoping to increase ad effectiveness by making the mobile experience more simple and consistent, while making it easier for you to use the same assets on your Instagram feed. (The 4:5 photo ratio maximizes the amount of real estate on Instagram without getting cropped).

These changes will also clean up Facebook users’ personal news feeds quite a bit when they are on the mobile platform: and 96% of Facebook users regularly access the platform through mobile devices.

What to do:

The Shakespearean social media users are going to hate this, but you can prepare for this change by tightening up your business page posts. People will be less likely to read your entire message if they have to click on a prompt in order to do so. Remember, many of them are just passively scrolling through. Also, if there are instances where you use a link in your copy, rather than utilizing a link preview in your post, you’re going to want to make sure that link is visible within the first three lines or else your followers are going to be less likely to click on it.

So, tighten your message, use less context if you tend to be a long-form copywriter, get to your point quicker and use great visuals and link previews that will capture your followers’ attention.

Not familiar with photo aspect ratios? Here’s a useful page. Think of 4:5 as an 8×10’’ photo, they’re the same aspect ratios.

You may or not like the changes, but managing social media is a lot like enjoying a coloring book. You’re being creative and artistic, but you also want to make sure you stay inside the lines and color by the numbers—or else it just doesn’t work. But the bottom line is that your business is on Facebook to improve your bottom line. So prepare, adapt and scroll on!

Tuesday Tip: Don’t Be Known as “The Person with the Bad Haircut” – by Dan Tapper

One of our favorite stories to tell goes back many years here at SLPR, when a former client of ours talked about the fleeting nature of bad publicity. He likened it to a bad haircut.

“Isn’t that true?” he asked. “Much like a bad haircut, isn’t bad publicity gone and forgotten about a week or two later?”

“Yes, that is technically true,” we told him. “The problem is, if it keeps happening again and again, you become known as the person with the bad haircut.”

And let’s face it—that is something no one wants.

Certainly, bad publicity can be a temporary thing. Some negative stories are what we call “one day stories,” the kind that are splashed across the media for one stressful day for the party involved, and then largely forgotten when the media moves on to something else. That said, in 2019, the indelible memory of the Internet can always find a way to bring the bad news back when you least expect it: a snapshot in time…of your bad haircut.

But beyond that, it always seems to us to be defeatist to simply accept bad news, brush it off and move on without doing anything about it. One bad story over a long period of time can be managed and minimized. Two bad stories? Okay, perhaps that can be explained away as well. But when it keeps happening and the same cycle ensues, we have to question whether this strategy is working.

A few years back, we were asked to speak to a group of professional communicators in a health care-based industry that, given the nature of its work, often has the public spotlight upon it. And these communicators frequently received probing calls from the media about issues and problems that sometimes arose in their industry, questions that—if not unfair—were often presumptive and more than a little leading. And yes, that can wear on you. Eventually, they decided that they were done responding to these media inquiries. Essentially saying, “Write your story, but leave us out of it.”

And that’s exactly what the media did—every time. They left one side of the story out of it because the people on that side opted to not comment, rather than respond with a positive key message.

In other words, these communicators—while their frustration was understandable in a way—kept opting for the bad haircut.

We counseled them—implored them, really—otherwise. Letting the story control you is never the best option, and letting stories remain unbalanced in the public eye is a big mistake in the world of public relations. Instead, we told them, you need a new model. Work with the reporter who calls. Find out the issue they are calling about and then, carefully, craft the right message to respond to it—one that shows care, contrition where necessary and corrective action. Do that, and the days of seeing one-sided stories about your organization will be behind you.

They agreed, and beginning that day there was a marked change in the tenor of the stories that were published. Was the “bad news” still reported? Sure. But it was the way it was reported that made all the difference—with context, perspective and balance.

The days of the “bad haircut” for these good people had come to an end. And now, a few years down the road, their new hairstyle is suiting them just fine.

Making a Case for Vertical Video – by Chris Zaccaro

According to a recent report released by the Pew Research Center “Americans of all ages are increasingly likely to say they mostly go online using their smartphone.” Since 2013, the number of U.S. adults that access the internet primarily on their smartphones has doubled to 37%. Which, if you do the quick math, means that 1 in 3 people are bound to reach the internet via their phones rather than desktops, laptops or tablets. If that growth stays consistent—and if anything, it is bound to accelerate—by 2025 over half of American adults will be primarily using their phones when surfing the web or social platforms.

Not only that—and this may make you cringe—Zenith’s Media Consumption Forecasts has stated that “people around the world will spend an average of 800 hours using the mobile internet this year…equivalent to 33 days without sleep or pause.” Just think of all of the episodes of The Office you could have watched in that time!

“Oh, so that’s what you were doing…”

What does this mean for communication professionals? That it’s time to start implementing vertical video into your digital and social strategies.

Now this is not to say you should stop framing your shots horizontally altogether. Many people do—and will likely continue to—access the internet through devices other than their phone. Also, you may be producing your video to be shown in non-internet based environments, such as television or within presentations. And therein lies the lesson.

How do I frame this?
So, what’s the better way to go? Vertical? Horizontal? Let your venue be your guide.

Don’t just take my word for it (though I would like you to), look at the numbers…and Sam Smith!

According to scientiamobile’s MOVR Mobile Overview Report, 94% of smartphone users hold their phones vertically and as we’ve pointed out a number of times, the viewership of stories on social media—which are displayed vertically—has grown massively over the past few years. Andrew Hutchinson of Social Media Today pointed out earlier this year that Facebook now has more than a billion daily story users across their Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp platforms.

YouTube, the second-most widely used social media platform in the U.S., recognized its need to adapt last year and added vertical video support to its web app. Haven’t noticed that yet? Look no farther than Sam Smith.

Here’s his vertical music video for Dancing With A Stranger

And here’s his horizontal version…

That’s right, two versions!

Here are some we can take from the Sam Smith two-music video versions lesson:

1.) This song is so damn catchy. Add it to your playlist.

2.) You’ll notice that the vertical view and the horizontal view are two different versions of the music video—with different framing, shots, graphics, etc. That’s because not every shot that works in horizontal format works in vertical format, and vice versa. When possible, customize your creative—whether it be graphic design or video—so it properly fits within the environment it’s displayed in. Much like you should do with images you post on Facebook vs. Twitter. Ever notice that a picture you posted on Facebook gets cut off in Twitter? They display differently!

3.) Along the same lines as #2, keep the vertical vs. horizontal video dimensions in mind when you begin storyboarding and framing your shots. That way your life is easier when post-production comes around.

4.) Unlike Baby Shark, Sam Smith is an artist that can be appreciated by all ages—but his fan base is really the younger crowd between the ages of 18-24 and, according to Pew, 94% of that age bracket uses YouTube. As such, Smith is bearing witness to the first lesson of Marketing 101: Know your audience. He knows his fan base uses YouTube to watch his videos, and as we’ve discussed here, 1 in 3 adults primarily use their cell phone for internet use and 94% of them hold it vertically. It just makes sense for him and other artists to begin providing the vertical video option so they can capture a wider set of their audience.

And perhaps it’s time for you to begin providing it as well.

Tuesday Tip: Business & Social Media – Look Before You Leave by Chris Zaccaro

Your friends may be taking a break from social media, but should your organization?

In a recent Communication World Magazine article, digital media pro Kristina Podnar asked Is it time to bid social media goodbye? It would take more convincing for me to begin advocating for the shutdown of social media platforms, but Podnar provides great tactical questions to ask yourself if you should consider curtailing or shutting down your organization’s platforms. To wit:

• What would it do to the brand?
• Will it damage audience or customer loyalty?
• How will you fill the communication void you just created?
• And of course, what if this doesn’t work out and turns into a bad idea?

Who of us hasn’t had at least one friend declare that they had enough and were taking a break or getting off social media for good? And these days, can you blame them?

The argument for shutting down platforms comes after a rough couple of years for social media that included a rise in fake news distribution, trolling and data hacks.

In fact, Podnar cites a report by The Drum’s Rebecca Stewart that only 8% of internet users worldwide believe that most of the information shared on social media is true; a number that drops to 4% where influencers are concerned.

Additionally, the Pew Research Center reported in their Social Media Use in 2018 article that “59% of social media users think it would not be hard to give up social media, including 29% indicating it would not be hard at all.”

Pew has also revealed in its 2018 article Americans are changing their relationship with Facebook that “74% of U.S. adult Facebook users either adjusted their privacy settings, took several weeks off from the platform or deleted the app altogether from their cellphone.”

But still, removing your organization from these communication channels is an entirely different, risky and major decision. One that could have big implications to your brand and business.

So while you personally may need a break from social media, don’t automatically let your personal views dictate your professional decisions. Before deactivating, ask yourself Podnar’s questions and see if shutting down your social media platforms is really what’s best for business.

State of the Media Market: How Hartford Likes its Local News – by Chris Zaccaro

Earlier this year the Pew Research Center released results from a survey that asked nearly 35,000 American adults how they consume and rate their local news. While the survey’s main summary provides an overview of the entire U.S. audience, the folks at Pew also provided a nifty tool that allows you to drill down into your local market. In this article we’ll focus on our Hartford market to see how it compares to the rest of nation, while trying to suggest some useful tips that may help you in your public relations efforts.

SIDETRACK: For those interested, other media markets like New Haven-Milford,
Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk and Norwich-New London are available through the tool.

Hartford likes TV

When asked how they get their local news, 47% said they “often” get it from TV stations, which is nearly twice as much as both daily newspapers and radio stations. This aligned closely with the National audience–which also agreed that they “often” use television for local news.

(If you combine the aforementioned 47% of respondents with the group saying they “sometimes” get their news from TV stations–then the number jumps to a whopping 79%)

Now you may be saying to yourself, “Everyone is always on their smartphones, how have digital options not surpassed TV yet?”

Like our news, it depends on how you look at the data.

The research from the Hartford market shows that not one single digital option comes close to surpassing TV in the “often” category. However, if you combine each of the digital options-websites, social media and apps–then we see that online sources are within five percentage points of TV.

This shows that nearly the same amount of folks are getting their local news from online sources, with TV still getting the slight edge … for now.


Newspapers & FM/AM radio in the digital era

Daily newspapers are known to have been the most impacted news source since the dawn of the digital era. Here in the Hartford market, 16% of respondents say they prefer to get their news via newspapers and 22% say they never utilize them.

Of course let’s keep in mind that basically every daily newspaper has a well-established website and social media platforms where their content gets posted. Just because consumers are saying they don’t read their news in print, doesn’t mean they’re not logging online to see what they’re reporting.

(Paying for it is a different matter. We’ll get into that later … )

As for radio, it just surpassed daily newspapers in the “often/sometimes” category, with 61% of Hartford respondents saying they “often” or “sometimes” get their news from the radio – seven percentage points higher than those who said the same about newspapers (54%).


Show local news the money!

With newsrooms consistently shrinking and journalists pitching subscriptions on Twitter, it seemed to be common knowledge that local outlets have been feeling the financial pinch over the last couple of years. Perhaps I’m just living in the media/public relations bubble because–not so, apparently!

Some 71% of the American adult population believes that local news outlets are doing quite well financially. This, along with the plethora of free news content available, could be why only 15% of the Hartford market has paid for local news in the past year (85% have not).


How can public relations practitioners put these findings into action? Here are some takeaway lessons:

• Earning media placement on TV is a big win. First, because we know people are watching and second, because your placement can be amplified and live longer on websites, social media and apps, which–when pulled together–are almost as popular as television with the Hartford audience.

• People may not prefer to get their news via print anymore (only 16% currently do), but that doesn’t mean your story won’t be seen. It would be extremely odd in 2019 if a daily newspaper didn’t have a website or social media platforms. Your story will most likely appear on their website, which is where 18% of Hartford respondents prefer to get their local news, and could possibly run several times on their social platforms, which is where 17% of locals prefer to get their news.

• If you’re looking for your story to be posted online, it may be better to aim for the beginning of the month. Clearly folks are not very interested in paying for news. Only 15% of the Hartford market has done so in the past year. If website visitors are only permitted five or ten free articles a month before they hit a paywall, a good strategy may be to try and ensure your story appears at the beginning of the month, before folks use up their allotment of free views.

• There may be media providers that are preferred over others, but any positive media placement–whether on TV, in print, online or on the radio–is still a win because here in Hartford 79% of adults follow local news very or somewhat closely, 70% believe our outlets report news accurately and 56% believe they include people like them in their stories.

Statistics from this article were provided by the Pew Research Center’s: For Local News, Americans Embrace Digital but Still Want Strong Community Connection (March 26, 2019)