The relationship between public relations and the media has long been symbiotic.
Though it doesn’t always seem equal if you’re a PR pro trying to get a story in a major media outlet, you would be worse off without access to the various news media.
How much might that change in the future? Will local newspapers be just as important to the PR pros of 2020 and beyond, or will the digital age change everything? Will all this media training go to waste? Let’s look at both scenarios and imagine possible futures with and without media and PR interaction.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. Although traditional media outlets such as newspapers are slowly going by the wayside, the role of media in public relations will stay the same. You will still have to talk to reporters and butter them up, and you will suffer for hours trying to figure out the best way to phrase your press release.
Why? Because journalism—the “fourth estate”—is an esteemed necessary part of a free country. Journalists have a saying: “Write about what they’re not
telling you.” They consider it their job to speak truth to power and find out the real story. Sometimes that will involve talking to you.
Even if your company is never part of a major trend or news story, there is still simply too much information flying past your face every single day to process everything going on. Have you ever tried reading the public Twitter feed? It’s impossible, because too much is happening.
So, even if newspapers made of actual paper don’t exist in 2020 and beyond, you’ll still have to send press releases and talk to reporters for your favorite websites (or whatever new thing is out then). Heck, you probably do that more now than send in stories to reporters who work at a newspaper, anyway. Why would the future be any different?
On the other hand, the ability for every person to have their own “story” online becomes easier and easier by the day. Even regular, untrained citizens are doing the work we mentioned above of speaking truth to power. (Some would say that’s a good thing; others would say it’s dangerous.) If you want to publish a great story and send it around the Internet, all it takes is a little knowhow and creativity. Suddenly the whole world is abuzz with talk about your company.
Think of how simple it is to write something up and send it to anyone interested. Now imagine a world with a decade or more of innovation in technology. Why would traditional “gatekeepers” still be around in that scenario? The Internet is a constantly evolving thing, and it won’t slow down anytime soon.
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Reporters and the like will become outdated as the trend continues toward community-based promotions such as blogs, social media, and previously unseen smartphone technologies. The role of traditional reporters will be reduced to making sense of the constant feed of information coming in from around the world. However, there will be no need for PR pros to submit anything to them, as there will be too many avenues for submitting a story to the public.
Do you think the media’s role in PR will lessen in the future? Please offer your thoughts in the comments section.
Mickie Kennedy is the founder of eReleases. A version of this article first appeared on the PR Fuel blog.