Social Media Changes PR and Journalism
One of my Facebook friends, who is working on his dissertation, asked me a question: How is social media affecting the relationship between journalism and PR? Ask a PR person/blogger a question about a passionate topic and you may get a long blog response. Here’s how I answered his question about Journalism and PR:
It has always been a tradition for journalists and PR professionals to work together. As much as there’s been conflict between the two parties in the past, often journalists unhappy with PR professionals who spam them, and PR professionals feeling that journalists don’t appreciate their efforts. However, the two still rely on each other. In a perfect world, journalists appreciate good PR people who can get them information quickly, when they are on deadline and act as reliable sources. PR people traditionally have depended on journalists to cover their companies or clients’ stories to prove their worth.
However, the media landscape is changing, which affects the roles of the different parties. Today, new journalism enters the picture, which includes the ability for citizen journalists to produce and share content. Suddenly, you have these new influencers, who are quickly gaining the respect and authority that, in some cases, trump the influence of the traditional journalist. Suddenly, PR people not only have to please traditional journalists, they also need to learn how to interact with bloggers, whether they are A-List, tastemakers or the magic middle bloggers.
No matter how much journalism changes and we see these changes every day, from newspapers closing down their operations to them moving their businesses completely online, journalism and PR will always work together; whatever form either party takes. The lines will blur even further as more communications professionals learn to use social media tools and become influencers as well. Suddenly, when it comes to journalism, we are all journalists with the ability to share our passion, news and report what we find meaningful to like-minded people in our social networks.
In the next five years, we will see the continued rise of citizen journalists or new journalists (whether it’s the average citizen, the PR or marketing pro and/or the traditional journalists turned blogger) and media will become any form of collaborative content that people want to share in web communities.
How would you have answered the question and what’s your take on social media and the changing nature of PR and journalism?
April 20, 2009 @ 10:15 pm
I think one of the answers to this question must lie in the philosophy about modern-day customer relations and the fact that, because of citizen journalism empowered through social media platforms, anybody can talk about anybody else and their comments may gain incredible traction and go viral online. With this in mind, organizational PR or public affairs practitioners can no longer just single out journalists as their main target audiences because even the ‘ordinary’ member of public calling in through the phone may well turn out to be the biggest fan, or critic, depending on how he/she was treated during the transaction. So, yes, PR/PA’s relationship with journalists have fundamentally shifted and communication practitioners have a larger piece of the pie to look after. They need to be prepared for the fact that, unlike the generally greater immediacy of transactions with journalists, having a plan to foster good relationships with key bloggers and influencers may not seem as key a task given that returns are often not seen until a real relationship is forged (and God knows how long that will take). However, not spending time and effort on blogger relations will almost certainly have negative consequences when crises hit. Social media means that everyone is a journalist, and for better or worse, organizations need to come to terms with this phenomenon. But unlike the utopian situation where they can juggle perfectly with everything and drop nothing, the reality is that limitations in manpower and resources will mean that community engagement initiatives must be surgical and targeted. The need to identify one’s communication ecosystem and who the most influential communicators are, vis-a-vis how much the PR unit can competently do, will be inevitable. My view is that as much as communication practitioners need to keep their eyes opened and not discriminate anyone in the communication ecosystem, they have no choice but to plan carefully how they prioritize their outreach efforts. To do so will give them a fighting chance of managing a flow and dialogue with the hope that additional layers of conversations can be added over time as their communication management system matures and stabilizes. Not to do so will be utterly suicidal!
April 21, 2009 @ 10:35 am
Daniel, I couldn’t agree with you more! We all need to keep our eyes open and we should focus on key communication to start. The conversations grid will grow in time. I think with such a large ecosystem, it’s critical to prioritize outreach and keep it manageable. It’s better to start slow and build the communication in a few networks than to overload in too many and not be able to keep up with the flow of dialog and information.
Thanks for sharing your insight!
William G Covington Jr
October 10, 2009 @ 7:22 am
This post is helpful in bringing out another aspect of the ongoing and growing influence of bloggers as well as other forms of social networking media. As you point out this will add to the complexity of being a PR practitioner.
February 11, 2010 @ 3:33 pm
Social Media Changes PR and Journalism http://tinyurl.com/c3klvw
January 25, 2011 @ 4:35 am
why cant journalists work as public relations officers.