I've been asked the question more than once from clients and others: What's the role of PR when traditional media dies?
There's no easy answer, especially when the task of measuring who matters most online just got tougher. For example, Technorati recently changed its blog authority ranking systems to reflect what's hot right now as opposed to who has influence over time. This adds volatility and can create additional challenges to achieving communications goals.
Add to that the increasingly blurred lines between bloggers, commentators and mainstream media, as well as the proliferation of online channels for top-tier outlets such as Forbes and The Wall Street Journal, and the landscape starts to look pretty confusing.
It's better to avoid trying to put people into “old” and “new” media categories. The bottom line is that they all provide editorial content. Failing to include an outlet because it's hard to classify means you aren't using every medium at your disposal. Use tools like Technorati and Google Blogs or other current ranking methods combined with your own institutional knowledge to identify credible commentators, writers, and bloggers.
Don't waste your time chasing bloggers who are either writing in bad faith or who might be writing cogent, fair criticism that no one bothers to read. Determine who has the greatest power to affect your reputation. Then forge relationships with relevant online writers just as you would with the usual beat reporters—and don't be afraid of your most vocal critics. We've seen firsthand that making contact with them and addressing their skepticism head on can earn you points and mitigate cynicism.
As the media world changes shape, as it has done many times during its lifetime, the basic principles still apply. Formats may change, but people remain the same.
Most important, if an issue is significant enough, make sure you're not relying solely on the media, old or new, to tell your story.
Steve Lipin, senior partner, Brunswick Group