The changing world of PR

Media relations aren’t the same as they used to be back in the day; pros need to navigate the new digital landscape of public relations in order to be successful. 

2014 has been an interesting year to launch a PR company.

Times have changed in the world of public relations. Social media is reinventing the profession and it’s no longer enough to just offer traditional media relations and associated services.

The main driver for this change has been the Internet and the underpinning technological advancements that have led to superfast broadband speeds for all. In 2014, the average Western European spends more time on their smartphone or tablet than watching TV.

Back in November 1972, print was king. Every paper had an industrial and labor correspondent, and disputes between workers and bosses dominated the news agenda.

It seems like a bygone era now. Though still important, print media circulations are plummeting. There’s still room for TV and radio, but social and online media which are changing everything.

This is mainly due to consumer habits. For example, I love newspapers and broadcast media. I can’t get enough of it.

I get my print news from the Metro (when I use public transport) and specialist magazines. The news I would have read from a daily paper in the past, I now get from a news app on my tablet or smartphone.

Why? Like many people with jobs and a young family, I’m busy. I haven’t the time or the headspace to read a paper from front to back or sit down at a set time every evening to watch the news. Most of it I’ve already received as a newsflash through an app, anyway.

If the way people receive news is changing, so must the PR profession.

Traditional media is still very important—it’s still any decent PR pro’s “bread and butter”—but a pro who doesn’t know his or her way around the ever-changing digital landscape is not going to get very far.

Here are some examples of how the PR industry has changed over the past 17 years:

  • We used to post out press releases. In fact, upon hearing that some organizations were emailing press releases, we wondered if it would ever catch on.
  • We faxed press releases to journalists until 2004.
  • In 1997, the circulation of the Daily Record was around 700,000 (which some of us thought was a “poor show”). Its circulation is now 215,000.
  • Social media didn’t exist at the start of 1997.
  • In 2013, Facebook had 1.23 billion users worldwide, 556 million of whom accessed the site daily through smartphones or tablets.
  • Twitter has 241 million monthly active users and Google Plus (the one everyone thinks they don’t need to bother about) has more than 1 billion users.
  • LinkedIn has 300 million active users.

The world’s changing. It’s less insular, more global, and more interconnected. You don’t go to your local town to buy your computer anymore, like when I was a kid, you buy it off the Internet. And sometimes, it goes halfway round the world to get to you.

For many clients and pros, getting stories in key publications is still what they think about first. However, it’s important to realize that there are other, often better, ways of reaching target audiences now.

Good PR strategies can help you with this, in these changed times.

David Sawyer is the founder of ZudePR. A version of this story originally appeared on the PR firm’s blog. Follow ZudePR on Twitter and Google Plus. (Image via)

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