Should newsrooms act more like advertisers? Or should advertisers act more like newsrooms?” asked Tim Nolan, the Interactive Group Director at BBH NY, at the Social Media Summit at The New York Times on April 20

He proposes: “Somewhere in the middle is probably where we need to be.”

Real-time marketing. Some wonder if it’s already over. Some say it’s a myth. And eMarketer claims, and I agree, that it’s just beginning. Thanks to social media and mobile devices, “the need to move faster is greater now than it has ever been.”

Why aren’t the marketers for news organisations, whose very brands epitomise “real time,” working to lead the way?

One of the day’s first discussions at the Social Media Summit in April focused on what social media techniques journalists and news organisations can borrow from the worlds of politics, branding, marketing, and advertising.

Representatives from top agencies acknowledged that some of the most successful marketing programmes over the past year have resulted from brands and agencies borrowing the tricks of a conventional newsroom.

Shankar Gupta was part of the 360i team that worked with Oreo to build the “social-media war room” that delivered the most memorable ad of this year’s Super Bowl — a tweet.

Gupta looked to Times’ Editor of Interactive News Aron Pilhofer and said: “Real-time marketing and newsrooms and all that? We stole that from you guys.”

Kyle Monson, chief creative officer of Knock Twice, issued his hope and a challenge for news organisations: “I hope journalists are able to step up and steal back the momentum that brands and agencies, I think, have stolen from them. Because we aren’t making the world a better place by advertising Oreos.”

As journalists and advertisers each consider adopting the strategies of the other, I call on you marketers for news organisations to bridge that divide and help lead the way on creating real-time marketing programmes that inform and delight your audience.

Inject your day-to-day marketing programmes with real-time relevance. Newspapers used to be hawked on street corners with cries of “Extra! Extra! Read all about it…”

News organisations have lost even that basic sense of immediacy in many of their marketing communications. Look to amplify your newsroom’s social media coverage of events with promoted tweets and sponsored Facebook posts.

As Jen Nedeau from Bully Pulpit Interactive said at the summit, “There’s no guarantee your audience will see your content on social unless you promote it.” 

And then use social media as a signal to inform other marketing channels. If you see a piece of content being widely shared on Twitter, consider leveraging it in other marketing communications, as well.

Can that most-tweeted story of the week be a hook to get people to consider subscribing or downloading an app?

Build a marketing editorial calendar and identify a few key events for your audience — a big sports event, a local election, an entertainment event.

Then look to test a “mission-control” approach to promoting your organisation’s news coverage of the event and leverage those moments everyone is talking about.

Here are three useful tips shared by Shankar Gupta at the Social Media Summit that may help you jump in and capture attention:

  1. Treat your readers and consumers like equals.

  2. Immerse yourselves in pop-culture.

  3. Talk like human beings.

Let me know if you see news organisations bringing some of the constant buzz of their newsrooms into their marketing programmes. Let me know if you test any of these techniques with your own marketing team. I hope to use my next INMA post to highlight notable examples.

Entertain us. Inform us. Give us something to talk about while we’re dunking those Oreos.