Opinion: Media revolution will threaten fixer's role

Acclaim of media nous does not come much stronger than The Sunday Times Magazine editor's testimonial of Mark Borkowski.

‘He is one of only two people in PR who can reach me at home or on holiday. He brings in cover stories, he is old-school with new ideas - more of an impresario than a PRO,' says Robin Morgan of the man he affectionately calls ‘Borko' (see News Analysis).

Borkowski is one of the elite of so-called ‘impresarios' that includes Max Clifford, Matthew Freud, Phil Hall, Stuart Higgins, Brian MacLaurin and our esteemed columnist Ian Monk. They excel in their understanding of how the UK media tick and, of course, in their relationships with the major editors.

But as we are reminded constantly these days, the media landscape is fragmenting at an ever-increasing pace. Newspaper sales are declining, publishers are investing more in digital and the rise of ‘citizen journalism' continues apace through blogs, chatrooms and video-sharing services such as Google's newly bought YouTube. As outlets of opinion and influence proliferate (especially among the young), the role of mass media gradually diminishes. Having the unconditional ear of a national newspaper editor will arguably carry less currency than it does today.

So does this fragmentation sound the death knell of our PR impresario? Does it preclude the emergence of PR operators who are of a similar mould? Probably not, actually. Despite these developments, the very existence of the mass media is hardly under immediate threat. Since many sources of comment and opinion on blogs and elsewhere derive from national press, the latter's influence might arguably increase, and will remain the first port of call for selling-in a story.

What is under threat, however, is the impresario's crisis management role as a ‘fixer', trying to kill a damaging story about a client. The democratisation of opinion and gossip through blogging and other techniques will see to that.

Danny Rogers is on holiday.

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