The PR ‘glue factory’ is this way

Consider the following:

• So far this year there were 13,434+ layoffs in US newspapers.

• For most organizations, public relations means media...

Consider the following:

• So far this year there were 13,434+ layoffs in US newspapers.

• For most organizations, public relations means media relations. This is the service that accounts for the majority of the time, fees and skills.

• Fewer media = less media relations = lower fees/budgets.

Companies don’t need to spend so much time on media relations if there are fewer media to relate to, but fear not, social media to the rescue! It’s ok if we spend less effort on media relations because we’ll spend more on social media.

Perhaps, but it’s not a given, nor is it an equal because of the following:

• Some companies might not embrace social media

• Many organizations will implement social media in-house with a small team rather than outsource it

• Agencies beyond the PR realm are claiming a valid stake in social media

• It requires different skills that the current PR departments and firms might not have.

This last point is the kicker. Regardless of the speed of transition away from media relations, the skills required for social media are more visual and technical than traditional PR. The tools we use today might not be those we use in five years. Already they are different to five years ago (WordPress, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn etc).

Media relations won’t go away, and those skills are transferable and desirable. Yet, the skills and knowledge we will all need in the future are not the ones we have today. For veterans, this means working out how to translate those talents to a disintermediated world. For newbies, it’s an opportunity to carve out a valuable niche.

We’ve seen the pain of transition in the agricultural and manufacturing sectors as new technologies come along. We’ve witnessed firsthand the impact the social web is having on the media. The Internet changes the economics of every industry it touches. Now it’s happening to you.

It’s terrifying, but also exciting. Good luck.

Morgan McLintic, EVP, Lewis PR

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