Yet more on the future of PR

By Ross Dawson on August 26, 2006 | Permalink

This week I was interviewed by Nicholas Scibetta, Global Director of Ketchum’s Communications & Media Strategy Network, on The New Media Transformation, looking at the implications for the PR industry. The interview is here. Below is an excerpt from the interview:
NS: What is the future of media and what is the role of both new and traditional media in PR programs, given the current media landscape?
RD: Mass media will not die — what we are seeing emerge is a continuous spectrum from traditional mass media through to small community-based conversations. For any particular client or campaign, PR professionals will have to consider where across this spectrum of media they should be investing energy to achieve results. In some cases, accessing only traditional media will be appropriate, while in others, new-media channels will be the primary target. Usually these will be complementary, especially given that traditional media increasingly takes its cues from key bloggers, and their stories can have little impact if they do not generate a discussion among bloggers.
Newspapers and business magazines, in particular, are actively looking for story ideas from bloggers, not least because it means those stories are more likely to get attention. Anecdotally, major bloggers are often pestered by mainstream journalists to link to their stories. A few high-profile bloggers linking to a journalist’s article means that it will get far more attention. Related to this is the reality that it is not just advertising campaigns that are now measurable and accountable, but also journalists, whose readership is now often directly measurable. Journalists whose articles are not read won’t have a job, and those that get many readers will quickly rise.
Newspapers and bloggers are now competing for scoops. A similar dynamic will soon emerge in the video landscape. The television networks are now experimenting with putting selected programs online, advertising slots and all. This makes sense, as it can only generate additional viewers, and value for their advertising. At that point, the number of viewers will be strongly related to how many bloggers link to the program, or people endorse it on popular video sites, such as YouTube.
NS: What impact do social-networking sites like MySpace and Facebook have on the media and what does it mean for PR professionals?
RD: Advertisers are seeking to reach young people who no longer consume traditional media. They can now do that by positioning themselves at the interstices of their social relationships – for example in social-networking sites. PR practitioners must be enormously careful in this space. Advertising is an overt message, so can be tolerated. Seeking to influence without being seen in the absence of disclosure is more likely to have a negative than positive impact. This means that PR practitioners need their activities in social-networking spaces to be entirely visible and clear, with the clients’ interests evident. For example, if people are rewarded to endorse a product or service, that should be disclosed. There are many possible effective PR activities in social-networking spaces. Complete transparency in these activities must be the guiding principle.

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