3cs.jpegLots of folks lament the death of information as more and more media outlets lay off reporters or just shut down. It is a tragedy. Too many great journalists I know are now trying to figure out how to make a living, and we will suffer as a society with out a strong fourth estate, aka, the press.

But the bottom line is, the way individuals consume information is changing, changing every day, and organizations and individuals focused on making our society a better society need to know how to get their messages out in the digital age.

I left journalism to join a nonprofit focused on the workplace, economic empowerment, early childhood, and education. I had found that the stories I wanted to write when I was with NBCNews.com and Today.com were not necessarily the stories that were “clickers”. Clickers are the pieces all of us click on, not necessarily because they’re important but because they grab our interest in a world cluttered with information.

So, where were people going to get the not-so-clickable info; the type of stories people still wanted to know about but were not as likely to click on given the lure of stories about the Kardashians or Trump’s latest rant riddling many media sites?

Something I noticed early on was people were beginning to bypass traditional media and go right to the source for information. By the source I mean organizations that focused their coverage or their research or thought leadership on a particular topic or topics. In the case of medical help, for example, readers were going to the Mayo Clinic or WebMD for information instead of say, the local paper or a national media outlet’s website. And in the case of workplace issues, folks were going to career-focused blogs or research organizations with statistics or resources to help both employers and employees.

So, how do nonprofits, or individuals looking to advance their careers, become known as thought leaders, take advantage of this shift and get their messages out there? We found success at Families and Work Institute — the think tank where I am senior director of social media and communications — by taking charge, not waiting for old media to knock on our door. To do this, I instituted my concept of the Three Cs for a Digital Age: Create, Curate & Capitalize.

CREATE

By create I mean creating your own content, whether it be research reports or blog posts or video interviews with our experts, and pushing it out into the world via social media channels and news media/bloggers. Reporters want new research and ideas, and individuals interested in particular topics will come to you if you’ve got something new to say or data to share. Individuals can do this by sharing their thoughts, expertise via social media or a blog. And you don’t have to launch your own website. (I’ve been suggesting Medium.com lately; an easy platform that lets you start writing in minutes.)

CURATE

Whether it’s on social media or your website, you should be sharing all the insightful, legitimate, news stories and blog posts and social media comments out there with your followers, subscribers, and those you want to attract. Include those as a feed on your website, or write about them if you publish a blog or trends section. We constantly look for great insights out there to share, and we make sure to review sites posting stories closely to make sure they’re not taking a particular stand just to sell products or services. You want to keep your credibility by making sure the info you share comes from credible sources. (Click through on every link you share to make sure it’s what it’s billed as. You don’t want to be sending your followers to a porno site, for example.)

CAPITALIZE

Monitor the news closely and jump on any big stories that align with your research and thought leadership. Write stories on your websites talking about the news and include your research and your experts in the piece. Or utilize blogging sites such as Medium.com or Huffington Post to post your stories for free. And find ways when ever you can to set the record straight. An example at our think tank that we share often is when the CEO of Yahoo announced she was ending the company’s telecommuting program. Every story and social media post talked about how this move meant telecommuting was on the decline throughout the workplace. But we had the data to show that in fact it was on the rise and Yahoo was an anomaly. We wrote about it, tweeted about it, and ultimately found our experts were being tapped by tons of print and broadcast reporters to talk about the issue.

Overall, we all have to wear the hat of journalist in some way today. Many see the digital age as something that’s hurt the search for information, but I feel the opposite. People now have a tool to get to more information than they ever had access to before the Internet. Obscure nonprofits putting out incredible research or advocating for important causes went unnoticed by so many people in the past. Now readers can type in a few words or read a comment on Facebook about their interest, passions, etc., and end up at your website’s door.

You can get your great work and mission out their by embracing the three Cs and not just waiting for old media to call.

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