Simon Hatcher writes…
Recently, I went to see News Ltd CEO Kim Williams speak about the changing media and digital communications landscape at the SA Press Club lunch.
An impressive orator, Kim talked about how holding back the tide of change was impossible and how increasing government regulation could impact on the freedom of the press.
In his words, consumers anoint the winners, not governments or regulators and while this has always been the case, in the digital era they have more direct power and influence than ever before.
Information and often misinformation spreads quickly through digital and social media channels and is seemingly impossible to control.
This changing landscape is a key factor that will shape the future of public relations, and much like the big media companies, we’re all coming to grips with the rapid pace of change.
One thing is certain – people will continue to get their information and news from a greater number of sources and no one channel – newspaper, TV station or website – will command the market share they did previously.
In some cases, this presents an opportunity for PR professionals to bypass traditional media outlets to get their message across but also gives rise to the challenge of how to get the message out to a wider audience.
PR people will need to continue working on multi-channel strategies for clients, which will include reaching an audience through traditional media like newspapers (I don’t believe newspapers are dying but they will look very different in the future), TV and radio, digital media and more direct social media channels.
However, for many people the fragmentation of media and communication channels is confusing and they will increasingly seek greater insight and analysis from trusted sources to ‘decode’ all the information they’re being given.
This could lead to a new age in journalism, and one which PR professionals will need to embrace, as identifying and working with trusted sources, whether in print, broadcast or online, will be key to managing an organisation’s or individual’s reputation.
Working with the media will continue to change for PR people as journalists become multi-disciplinary and now file stories for multiple channels.
There’s no doubt the media is working under increased pressure and PR professionals will need to refine how they work with journalists in order to meet their needs.
For example, journalists on radio are filing stories that will run on air and online on the station’s website as well as posting messages on their own and their station’s social media channels.
This means they don’t just rely on words but also need pictures and video content. The PR industry need to be able to make the journalist’s job easier by having all the relevant content on hand.
Finally, in my view PR professionals need to support and champion a strong and robust media and work with journalists, not in an opportunistic fashion, but in a way that’s credible and gives consideration to the long-term interests of the media, the community – and the client.
Without credibility PR professionals cannot build their client’s reputation through the media.
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