The Convergence of PR, Traditional Media and Social Media

by Kevin Hawkins on October 19, 2016

PinboardOne of the most profound changes in the media we consume in recent years is going largely unnoticed. The convergence of public relations, traditional media and social media is causing lines to be crossed – or at least blurred – and that’s making it nearly impossible to distinguish PR, from traditional media or social media. It appears that this convergence is accelerating and what that means is content today is often a bit of everything mixed together.

Let me explain. Traditional media – newspapers, radio and television – once ran news only created by their own reporters or from wire services that also used only journalists. The role of public relations was to work with these journalists to “pitch” or suggest story ideas that would interest the reporters because it would be of interest to their readers or audience

Today, as traditional media makes is digital transformation it is morphing into something else. The online news sites created by traditional media still features content written by journalists. But today only a portion of online news content is actually written by independent journalists. More and more executives, consultants and other experts are contributing Blogs to online news sites. While their content may appear to be independent, much of this content involves skilled public relations professionals providing guidance, if not crafting the entire piece. Most importantly, for most readers, it is nearly impossible to tell what content was written by a journalist and content created by a non-journalist.

This blurring of the lines between PR and traditional media is important, because revenue models today for news sites are driven by traffic. If a blogger has a bigger following than a journalist, who’s content is more important or valuable for the media entity? Many of my journalist friends today are being forced to change as well. Most where two hats: journalist and blogger. Often they are not the same in terms of the content that is created. What they write for the paper may be one thing, and what they write online another.

What has also changed because of this digital transformation is today’s professional journalist is being forced to alter their writing based on metrics. Most of the journalists I know are being held accountable to the web traffic their stories generate. Headlines are often nothing more than click-bait, which overpromise and the result is a story that underwhelms. For broadcast journalists, news reports are truncated, Twitter tweets are used as news source to validate stories and graphically displayed on the air, and hard news gives way to more fluff to drive more viewers. Today most viewers can’t distinguish the difference in news that’s provided by a broadcast journalist from news delivered by a morning show host.

Social media lines may be among the most blurred. With boosted and sponsored posts and tweets, generating reach and engaging folks isn’t just organic. Even content that goes viral is no longer solely accidental. PR has embraced social media additional media channels that simply target different audiences and require different content and methods to maximize effectiveness. But in the end, to a PR person, social media is still comprised of communication channels.

This convergence of PR, traditional media and social media is really where a giant sandbox where PR pros will play best. Advertising has had to adopt public relations strategies and tactics because traditional marketing methods used for decades simply don’t work in this sandbox as well because of this digital transformation.

Real estate firms need to take note of what is happening with this convergence. Social media alone is too limiting, leaving on the table all of the traditional media opportunities, which after all, drive a ton of social media traffic and engagement. Right now PR is in the driver seat of the future as this convergence continues.  In the end, having professional PR support becomes the better investment and transitions from a nice-to-have to a must-have as this convergence continues.

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