Interview with Edith Stier-Thompson, Managing Director of news aktuell, a PR solutions company from Germany.
Hi Edith, what is your background and what is included in your current role at news aktuell?
Since the beginning of my career, I have been working in the media business, in particular for news agencies. I started in the field of media pictures for Associated Press before I switched to the dpa Group in 2002. From 2002 onwards, I was head of the sales department for the dpa-subsidiary Picture Alliance GmbH before I was appointed managing director in 2007.
Since September 2014, I have been working as Managing Director at news aktuell GmbH, a fully owned subsidiary of the dpa-Group. I’m responsible for over 135 people. Together, we provide companies and organizations with effective access to both media and consumers.
What differentiates news aktuell from other PR solutions companies?
With news aktuell, it is extremely easy for customers to place stories on all external channels and to specific target groups that are important to them and the success of their business. Our solutions offer a wide range of customization, allowing our customers to be very precise and target-focused in their media work.
Have you recently, or do you plan to, release any new solutions that will add to or improve the services you offer your clients?
We are currently working on expanding our media database tool called zimpel and adding influencers to the tool. In addition, we are developing our native advertising services.
What part of your current products has a lot of potential but has not yet been adopted fully by your clients?
Visibility and reach are one thing, but in the end, it is also important to analyse the performance of your PR activities. For this, we offer a so-called “ots-Monitoring” - service in cooperation with our partner ARGUS Data Insights. This service has not yet been fully adopted by our clients, not even among those who do not have their own company monitoring.
What are the most common mistakes companies make in their everyday PR communication?
We often see that companies have great stories to tell but try to do so mainly through text. Often, they offer no or little multimedia material or material of poor quality. Therefore, there is a lack of professional images, graphics and/or videos to accompany the story. This is unfortunate, since multimedia material is often extremely important for media to take up the content.
In addition, many companies are not yet optimally positioned in the digital environment. Relying purely on one channel, in particular earned media, no longer works these days. It has become crucial to actively place stories yourself, for example through native ads or in your own newsroom in our “Presseportal”, which strongly supports companies' efforts to be found prominently in search engines.
What are your greatest challenges ahead at news aktuell, when it comes to serving your customers and developing your offer?
The challenge is to always be mentally ahead of the market, our customers and their needs – only then can we provide services and solutions which help companies to succeed in today's media landscape.
What changes in the PR industry have surprised you the most over the years?
The biggest surprise has been the triumphant march that corporate communications has made in recent years. A few years ago, many communication professionals still had to fight for their right to exist, which is now completely out of the question.
How do you think the PR industry and distribution will change in the next 5-10 years, and what are the greatest challenges ahead for the industry?
The importance of channels will continue to shift. Paid and shared media will continue to increase at the expense of owned and earned media. There is no way around social media (and especially social ads). In addition, the importance of internal communication and CSR communication will continue to increase significantly. The greatest challenge for companies is to get through to their target groups and stakeholders in the flood of information, and to position themselves authentically and convincingly.
By Peter Appleby