What’s Shift from Print to Pixels Mean for PR?

by coach on October 6, 2010

Interesting to read today of Howard Kurtz, the 29-year columnist with The Washington Post. Kurtz will join Tina Brown’s The Daily Beast online publication as Washington Bureau Chief.  With other high-profile journalists jumping online, many are now saying that traditional media really is dead.

I don’t share that opinion. In fact, I’m more optimistic than ever about the future of journalism. In the shift from print to pixels, new media is simply taking a different form than old media. And it’s still evolving.

In fact, as Doug Thompson at Capitol Hill Blue writes in Everything New is Old Again “With so many mainstream journalists making the switch it’s getting harder and harder to tell the new media from the old.”

That’s a good thing.

What the online news world has been missing is the wisdom, talent, objectivity, integrity and most important the editorial oversight that comes from experienced journalists.

What’s This Mean for PR?

I’ve speculated before that if trends continue, PR people would soon be “pitching” to the faceless world of Google, Yahoo News, AOL news and similar online news entities. Imagine reaching the point where you can’t talk to an editor or reporter and you’re simply depending only on good search engine optimization to carry your story forward?

Argh! Not a happy prospect.

Thankfully, we may not be moving in that direction as fast as it first appeared. That’s because the online entities have suddenly become hot properties.

In some cases like The Huffington Post and TechCrunch they are very profitable. Enough so that AOL just last week bought TechCrunch for a rumored $30 million. So, instead of anonymous bloggers tolling for pennies per word, they can afford to hire some of traditional journalism’s superstars at rockstar salaries!

That should mean better content, insight and perspectives from new media too.

Traditionally, public relations pros would research, write and distribute material, usually news releases, to media. Then we’d follow up with calls trying to secure interviews, story opportunities and other coverage that would make our clients happy.

When online media started to take hold, our roles suddenly became very different. Now, we need to be masters of the online universe too. News releases don’t work for audiences other than journalists. In many cases, journalists don’t even want news releases anymore.

The new tools and ways of talking to and connecting with new audiences are still being developed. That’s what makes PR exciting if we can adapt like many journalists.

The pace is a growing challenge for PR. We’re in a 24 x 7 global news environment. We need to respond immediately to traditional media and to the online newcomers.

We have bloggers, citizen journalists, and the public through social media channels expecting similar instant access and immediate solutions to every problem no matter how big or how small.

That’s why it’s a good sign that new media is becoming “old.”

We can expect higher standards to take hold. We can hope that the values of journalism will transfer to the new media and that we can both count on it as readers and viewers and depend on it as PR professionals.

The parallels between the evolution of journalism and PR remain. We’re evolving together. As long as we can adapt like traditional journalists, PR has an important role to play. After all, for both journalists and audiences, who doesn’t need a great story, well told?

What’s your experience working with new media? Still getting great results with old PR? We’d enjoy hearing your thoughts in the comments below.

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