Digital Marketing, Social Media Strategy, PR 20, Social Media Marketing

Why the Murder of Old Media is PR’s Best Chance

how social media killed old media 300x185 Why the Murder of Old Media is PRs Best ChanceSince the advent of the printing press, professional opinions have helped shape our own. From Hearst to Murdoch, from Cronkite to Brokaw. Huge companies that employ thousands of trained journalists have helped us understand what’s good and bad, and whom to embrace or fear. 

Not for long. This is not a flesh wound. The Internet killed old media, it’s just not dead yet. 

The First Cut is the Deepest

That innocuous and ugly first banner ad on Hotwired.com spawned an information and interaction demon that it swallowing up media as we know it.

The proliferation of free online content via Web site, email newsletter, and RSS feed has become the hemlock for media companies. Newspaper ad sales dropped 14% in Q1 2008 alone. A 200+ year institution with a 14% drop in a quarter. Amazing.

Every newspaper in the country (and most magazines and TV stations) have reduced their news staff considerably. This of course results in decaying journalism: more wire copy, fluff features, less investigation, etc.

Decaying journalism reduces readers, subscriptions, and ad revenue even further. It’s a vicious cycle that cannot be stopped. You don’t have any money so you lay off reporters, so your newspaper starts to suck, so people cancel their subscriptions, forcing you to lay off even more reporters. Yikes.

Someday, You’ll Yearn for Larry King

“Serious” journalism as we know it will be gone with the possible exception of subsidized news outlets and egghead journals.

Because there won’t be any budget to do any meaningful reporting, “news” will even more be a collection of personalities, each “spinning” a tiny scrap of information and making their living micro-casting their shtick to a highly-targeted audience. This “Perez Hilton Effect” will make news cursory, instant, and increasingly salacious as pro bloggers fight for page views using overly dramatic headlines.

PR is Needed More Than Ever

There’s been a lot of chatter about the role of PR in a new media world dominated by consumer generated content. I believe PR is actually more critical under those conditions. This explosion in news outlets will make it even more difficult for companies and organizations to communicate at any scale without PR help. Is your in-house corporate marketing team going to do outreach to 350 blogs? Maybe, but not likely.

Plus, a single corporate misstep will go viral instantly, making online crisis management through social media and video response a huge service opportunity for public relations professionals.

This of course will require PR types to manage relationships with many “prosumer” news outlets, and even if they don’t engage in social media and conversation marketing per se, they’ll need to be technologically adept and highly trained. Instead of using Bacon’s and Profnet to build a media list, they’ll use Radian6, Twingly, PitchEngine or whatever the semantic Web brings next.

RIP WSJ

As a news consumer, I mourn the death of old media. I loved reading stuff made from trees, and I appreciated (as a former journalism major) the role of the media in keeping our society informed and orderly.

But the genie is out of the bottle. And for PR firms, the murder of old media isn’t a threat, it’s an opportunity.

What do you think? Comments below please

Related
  • http://www.bjc.com/ sara fleury

    what can I say? you’re absolutely right and I’m sad, so sad to see the death of the paper. sending to my clients now – not that it will help!

  • http://www.bjc.com sara fleury

    what can I say? you’re absolutely right and I’m sad, so sad to see the death of the paper. sending to my clients now – not that it will help!

  • http://www.wheatleytimmons.com/ Robert Wheatley

    As CEO of a Chicago based PR firm, this is a major sea-change we are witnessing before our very eyes. The Tribune morphs from a major player in the proper “paper” era to something not far from tabloid, bite-sized morsel media. I would add another dimension to your assertions about an evolving role for PR. Increasingly mainstream media is going on-line, and whether its print or broadcast properties, video is becoming more and more important. PR, long the close relative of journalism and focused on crafting contributions and shape to stories prepared by others, we are now creating content without the filter. Yes it is “editorial” in flavor and construction, but in many cases what we develop IS the story. And a lot of this is going to be in video form. I predict within the next five years the vast majority of what we do will be in digital channels and it will involve video. I comment on the evolving role of PR at my blog: http://brandtrailblazers.com/blog

  • http://www.wheatleytimmons.com Robert Wheatley

    As CEO of a Chicago based PR firm, this is a major sea-change we are witnessing before our very eyes. The Tribune morphs from a major player in the proper “paper” era to something not far from tabloid, bite-sized morsel media. I would add another dimension to your assertions about an evolving role for PR. Increasingly mainstream media is going on-line, and whether its print or broadcast properties, video is becoming more and more important. PR, long the close relative of journalism and focused on crafting contributions and shape to stories prepared by others, we are now creating content without the filter. Yes it is “editorial” in flavor and construction, but in many cases what we develop IS the story. And a lot of this is going to be in video form. I predict within the next five years the vast majority of what we do will be in digital channels and it will involve video. I comment on the evolving role of PR at my blog: http://brandtrailblazers.com/blog

  • http://twitter.com/JenMitch/status/ Jennifer Mitchell

    RT @PRsarahevans: RT @pitchengine Why the Murder of Old Media is PR’s Best Chance http://tinyurl.com/3qe7pa

  • Jason Baer

    Robert -

    What an exceptionally thoughtful comment. Sincere thanks. Your ideas about PR creating video content directly are really interesting. You need to blog about that.

    I like your site and blog a lot. As a fellow food and wine lover, you might get a kick out of one of my “side projects” Hottie & The Fatso. http://www.hottieandthefatso.com

    Thanks again for the great comment. Please come back. I’ve subscribed to your blog.

    Best regards,

    j

  • Jason Baer

    Robert -

    What an exceptionally thoughtful comment. Sincere thanks. Your ideas about PR creating video content directly are really interesting. You need to blog about that.

    I like your site and blog a lot. As a fellow food and wine lover, you might get a kick out of one of my “side projects” Hottie & The Fatso. http://www.hottieandthefatso.com

    Thanks again for the great comment. Please come back. I’ve subscribed to your blog.

    Best regards,

    j

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  • http://winedotcom.blogspot.com/ David at Wine.com

    Jason, thanks for the post – I think you’re spot on. The challenge now is measuring and packaging in a meaningful way the massive amount of content in social media. How do we evaluate the impact of campaigns? How do we strengthen brands online? Thought you might be interested in this post on social media monitoring in the wine industry
    http://winedotcom.blogspot.com/

    David

  • http://winedotcom.blogspot.com/ David at Wine.com

    Jason, thanks for the post – I think you’re spot on. The challenge now is measuring and packaging in a meaningful way the massive amount of content in social media. How do we evaluate the impact of campaigns? How do we strengthen brands online? Thought you might be interested in this post on social media monitoring in the wine industry
    http://winedotcom.blogspot.com/

    David

  • Cari

    It is sad that old news coverage is dying but, let’s be serious, how much of what is on the nightly news is useful or meaningful. I think it’s great that there are so many places to get news that is relevant to you. But I totally agree, now with social networks where people can say whatever they want, it is much harder to manage brand reputations.

    We just started a buzz marketing company that allows businesses to monitor, measure and join online conversations that are relevant to them and their industry. Regardless of whether you know about them or not, conversations are happening about you all the time. Might as well know what they are saying and get involved.

    Cari
    Buzz.io

  • Cari

    It is sad that old news coverage is dying but, let’s be serious, how much of what is on the nightly news is useful or meaningful. I think it’s great that there are so many places to get news that is relevant to you. But I totally agree, now with social networks where people can say whatever they want, it is much harder to manage brand reputations.

    We just started a buzz marketing company that allows businesses to monitor, measure and join online conversations that are relevant to them and their industry. Regardless of whether you know about them or not, conversations are happening about you all the time. Might as well know what they are saying and get involved.

    Cari
    Buzz.io

  • http://twitter.com/kcarter Kevin Carter

    Great post! I’ve been in the PR industry for about three years, and in that time, I have seen first hand the damage a lack of advertising dollars is inflicting on publications of all kinds. I agree that the increasing influence of online venues and Web 2.0 applications is a huge opportunity for PR professionals, but — to your point — I also worry about the loss of traditional, trusted sources of journalism like the New York Times or Wall Street Journal. I am, however, encouraged by the number of bloggers who have earned the trust of the public and contribute responsible, insightful posts.

  • http://twitter.com/kcarter Kevin Carter

    Great post! I’ve been in the PR industry for about three years, and in that time, I have seen first hand the damage a lack of advertising dollars is inflicting on publications of all kinds. I agree that the increasing influence of online venues and Web 2.0 applications is a huge opportunity for PR professionals, but — to your point — I also worry about the loss of traditional, trusted sources of journalism like the New York Times or Wall Street Journal. I am, however, encouraged by the number of bloggers who have earned the trust of the public and contribute responsible, insightful posts.

  • Jason Baer

    Kevin -

    Thanks much for the comment. I wonder when/if places like NYT and WSJ will just start hiring bloggers directly?

    Cheers,

    j

  • Jason Baer

    Kevin -

    Thanks much for the comment. I wonder when/if places like NYT and WSJ will just start hiring bloggers directly?

    Cheers,

    j

  • Tracy Zimmerman

    I really enjoyed your post and found your comments about an even greater need for PR very insightful. I’ve been doing social marketing for about 15+ years. I would add that good PR has always sought to engage audiences in a variety of ways. It’s always been about going to your audience wherever they are, rather than making them come to you. Sometimes that may be a NYT piece, but usually that is just the tip of the iceberg. Now we have so many ways to engage that part of the challenge is prioritizing and trying to figure out what work best with whom.

  • Tracy Zimmerman

    I really enjoyed your post and found your comments about an even greater need for PR very insightful. I’ve been doing social marketing for about 15+ years. I would add that good PR has always sought to engage audiences in a variety of ways. It’s always been about going to your audience wherever they are, rather than making them come to you. Sometimes that may be a NYT piece, but usually that is just the tip of the iceberg. Now we have so many ways to engage that part of the challenge is prioritizing and trying to figure out what work best with whom.

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  • http://www.m-i-x.com/ Matt Aiken

    Good article, in the UK we’re predicting the death of some of the local regional newspapers within the next 5 years. Of course it’s not just print that’s getting killed, the digital switchover is another reason why people are not bothering to upgrade their TV sets, (use them just for home entertainment, and making their mobiles, and computers the main source of news – and old tv content is still watchable via iPlayer or streaming TV).

    How traditional agencies add digital to their mix is one of the biggest issues facing them today.

  • http://www.m-i-x.com Matt Aiken

    Good article, in the UK we’re predicting the death of some of the local regional newspapers within the next 5 years. Of course it’s not just print that’s getting killed, the digital switchover is another reason why people are not bothering to upgrade their TV sets, (use them just for home entertainment, and making their mobiles, and computers the main source of news – and old tv content is still watchable via iPlayer or streaming TV).

    How traditional agencies add digital to their mix is one of the biggest issues facing them today.

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