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?