Do PR pros over-rely on media relations?

How people consume news keeps changing. Whether you reach consumers in digital pubs or on social media, this pro suggests that PR move further away from traditional media relations.

Media relations has long been a PR core commodity.

Recent stats, reports and general consumer behavior however, suggest this might be changing.

Consider how the following have affected media relations:

Investment in content marketing continues to rise. According to Click Z, many chief marketing officers reported that content was their biggest expenditure last year, accounting for 13 percent of their budgets. This was followed by digital advertising (11 percent), traditional advertising (11 percent) and analog physical activities (11 percent).

Content partnerships with major media outlets are also increasing in popularity. For example, Netflix and The Wall Street Journal teamed up to create the series “Narcos.” This partnership told the story of Pablo Escobar and the Medellin cartel from a business and economics point of view. For more examples, click here.

Social media marketing is not slowing down. According to eMarketers, social media ad spending will quadruple by 2017. Although numbers don’t tell the whole story, they show how brands use their time and budgets.

Plummeting circulation has also steered brand managers away from media relations. According to a recent report from McKinsey Global Institute, combined global spending on print newspapers and magazines fell $22 billion from 2011-2014—a 3.6 percent annual decline. RELATED: 7 Steps to a Strategic Communications Plan.

I am not implying that USA Today and The New York Times are going to die. But the decline of print makes me think differently about PR’s historical emphasis on traditional media outreach. We may be putting too much into media outreach, and not enough into the others mentioned above.

Media relations means communicating a message to a key audience. To be successful, marketers will have to place their messages wherever their audience is. One of the best ways to do this was through newspapers and magazines. Flash forward to 2016: Traditional media reach keeps shrinking and consumer behaviors keep shifting. According to McKinsey, fixed and mobile broadband subscriber bases will continue to increase over the next five years and many new subscribers will migrate from print to digital.

For PR pros, this isn’t a recipe for sinking more money into traditional media relations. Perhaps it’s time to open our eyes to the reality that media relations is (or should be) a smaller part of our job.

Arik C. Hanson is the principal of ACH Communications, a marketing and communications consultancy. A version of this article appeared originally on his website.

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