This week's layoffs at BusinessWeek sent shockwaves through the PR and editorial communities. Just days before Thanksgiving, approximately 130 BusinessWeek journalists were let go. Many of them, our friends and colleagues, had been at the publication for 20 to 30 years. The news capped off a horrendous year for the media.
Those of us in tech first noticed the Internet's displacement of traditional media during the last economic downturn. The downturn was the impetus for blogs. Talented journalists like Om Malik founded GigaOm, pioneering the new medium and figuring out business models along the way.
It's likely that this new wave of unemployed journalists will also innovate with new infotainment products and services. There's a palpable vacuum and there will be a need for media sources to be verified, news to be curated, and real-time tweets to be put into broader context. It's been a sad time for media, but evolution will surely come.
PR is about to undergo a radical transformation due to the changing media landscape. Numerous other marketing functions have already been forever altered by the Internet and it's plausible to believe that PR will soon feel similar effects. Every company is developing its discrete media channels, voice, content, and networks by uploading YouTube videos, creating Wikipedia pages, and publicizing its viewpoints via Twitter pages. Services are emerging to track influencers around each topic.
I'm looking forward to the end of 2009. I suspect 2010 will be equally as interesting.Donna Sokolsky Burke is founder/owner of Spark PR