Modern PR: The Media’s Changing… with You or Without You

Despite some reports to the contrary, the media is not dying. But there are dramatic changes taking place and, chances are, this is not completely news to you.

As PR pros, most of us have seen long-time relationships with key reporters end as they get laid off and move on. Advertising’s place in the marketing mix is coming into question as traditional media’s reach fragments and shrinks. Certainly, no discussion of modern PR today is complete without a look at the state of the media industry.

If you’re among those who’ve been burying their heads in the sand over the implications of these changes, I’m here to rally you out of complacency.  PR is going to look very different 10 years from now… with you or without you. For those of us who are independent, it’s critical that we adjust.

The News About the News
Though we know it’s ugly out there, it’s important to look at how far this really goes, because it has an inextricable effect on PR and marketing. The actual numbers for traditional media sobering. An important study by Pew Research Center found that the Internet has officially overtaken newspapers as a source for news, and among young people under 30, it’s close to surpassing even television.

While there was a time when we referred to “mainstream media,” traditional media is no longer “mainstream.” And with so many journalists getting pink slips, the Internet is gaining even more prestigious reporters who are now choosing to communicate via new media – blogs.

Amid this evolution (some would say revolution), the fact that there are sources dedicated exclusively to chronicling the media outlets in decline is telling, and many thought leaders are looking at the future of new versus “legacy media.” If you’re a PR professional, your future depends on monitoring the effects of these advancements and counseling your clients accordingly.

Fortunately, it’s not all doom and gloom – this new era offers organizations and PR professionals unprecedented opportunities. We no longer have to rely solely on the journalists as gatekeepers to relay our information to the public. Obviously, journalists and their inherent third party credibility continue to play an important role (and Internet-based news is still news), but companies and organizations can now also speak (and converse) directly with their customers and potential customers.

So, where exactly will PR be in 10 years? I don’t think anyone can honestly tell you that. But we can say that Modern PR means evolving, adapting and embracing new challenges through self-education.

If you haven’t yet embraced social media, now is the time to at least become familiar. The next post in the Modern PR series will look at the marriage of PR and social media, into what some call PR 2.0.

What do you think? Are you finding that some PR pros are resistant to change?

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Photo credit: Yea I Knit

  • Kellye,
    You are so right! With many new PR pros looking for work – and many experienced PR pros looking for ways to cut costs for clients – I think that the changing media landscape can easily be overlooked. I know some PR folks who are not interested in new media, widgets or Web 2.0, and I think they’re going to find that at some point, they’ll be left at a disadvantage because they did not take the time to understand many changes happening now. (One example is social media press releases.)

    Thanks for the timely reminder!

  • People often fear change, and PR pro aren’t the exception. I don’t know why, but I’ve always been interested in what’s around the corner. I remember when the 1st PR agency I worked for tasked me with figuring out of the agency needed a Web site or not. This was in ’95, when there weren’t many agency sites out there yet. I was excited.

    Then I move to SD in ’96, and one of the agencies I interviewed with told me, “We haven’t quite decided if we need to do anything with this whole Internet thing.” Huh?

    You are right on, Kellye. If you don’t look at where things are going, and run to learn all you can, you’ll quickly find youself out of the game.

    Maybe I’m lucky enough to have joined the PR race right when things were going through a big change at the time, too. I didn’t have time to get complacent.

    Jen Wilbur’s last blog post..pig pile on lily

  • Kellye Crane

    @Linda- Thanks for your comment. I agree, and I worry about my friends who think they don’t have time to pay attention. FYI- we’ll be covering social media releases in the next post.

    @Jen- A healthy curiosity is always helpful in this business! I know many of us were attracted to this field because there’s always something new to learn. The current period is just requiring us to learn a bit more, faster.

  • I think everyone at one time or another fears change. I once worked for a boss who was old-time media. He was a former news anchor and believed I should write press releases and fetch him coffee. The reality is that when I mentioned new ways to reach our target audience, he would bah-humbug me. Once he retired, I was able to push a few things forward.

    Now, I’m in a company where all tools and resources are utilized, but it will be interesting to see how some of the older PR employees react to the new positions being created around social media. So far, everyone has their role, and things are calm. I think it will work if they partner with each other versus one tool trying to take over another tool.

    Susan’s last blog post..Birth of a business blog

  • Change is often met with resistance by some and embraced by others. Once in motion there is very little stopping change, innovation, advancement. Traditional media pales in comparison to the extensive adoption of the web and its worldwide resources. Most is attributed to the ease of use, cost effectiveness and convenience. Keeping up is most definitely a challenge, one that we must embrace to remain competitive.

    You have a nice site Kellye. Well done.