The media and communications landscape is evolving rapidly and these changes are having a big impact on the way we conduct public relations. Here are three trends that are affecting how we do business:
1. The Internet is killing the expert
Google is pretty much the gateway to all knowledge, with massive amounts of information being available at the click of a mouse. As we are now able to undertake research on everything we need from our desk space, we no longer need the opinion of an expert. The pitfall is that an expert is just that – an expert. They can be trusted as a being reliable. A lot of information available on the Internet comes from dubious sources, with the result that many people looking for answers are being duped with false information. Even high quality publications aren’t immune. The UK’s The Guardian newspaper was left with egg on its face when Dublin university student posted a phony quote on Wikipedia attributed to a French composer who had just died. The paper published the quote in its obituary for the deceased, having to amend it with an apology when the hoax was revealed.
2. Axed journalist posts are making it harder to get coverage
The combination of a depressed economic climate, the rise of citizen journalism and the growth of online media has meant that publications and outlets have slashed the number of journalists they are retaining in full-time employment. The result is that unless it has genuinely earth-shattering news value, it can be extremely difficult to find someone willing to cover your event or press conference. An increasing reliance on freelance journalist to cover the cracks in staffing also means that building long-lasting relationships is hard. All this adds up to more pressure on the PR professional whose client wants to see coverage.
3. The digital expert is now the creative driver
With social media now an established marketing platform, every company wants to have their own Facebook page, YouTube video and Twitter account. Up until quite recently, the established mode of communication employed by PR agencies for their clients was the press release, which required a high standard of writing and journalistic expertise. The increasing hegemony of social media over established, traditional forms has led to the rise of the digital media expert within the PR industry. These professionals have a different set of skills and are increasingly driving creative content. It is this content that consumers in the digital age are reacting to. Marketing is carving a new route and agencies are having to adapt in order to keep up with the pace of change.