Todd Defren, a principal at SHIFT Communications, recently blogged about The Next 50 Years of Public Relations on his PR-Squared blog. In his post, he suggests when people talk about the death of PR, they’re really talking about the death of media relations. We share similar opinions on how media relations have changed over the past decade. We also share a pet peeve for the generalization of the term “public relations” when referring to “media relations”. There are a lot of people that still don’t understand public relations is about a lot more than press junkets, press releases, and press clips. And don’t get me started on the use of the word “press” when talking about these things.
Todd and I both seem to agree that there will still be a role for media relations under the public relations umbrella, but based on this post, I think I might see the role as more significant. While mass media relations is no longer effective at getting the word out, no organization will be able to survive without media relations experts on staff or under contract. We’re rapidly moving to a one-to-one media relations environment, where it’s more challenging than ever to manage relationships with reporters, bloggers (professional and amateur), and everyone else. And then there is all the social media stuff that keeps most communication professionals up at night. I see monitoring playing a more significant role in media relations because organizations are finally starting to realize they need to talk and listen, but it will still be media relations professionals operating in the middle ground between the media and your spokespeople responsible for getting the word out.
To take things a step further, I think we’ll continue to see an increased focus on direct-to-consumer communications, where communications professionals bypass traditional media altogether. Similarly, media professionals will increasingly go direct to the source, rather than work through a media relations intermediary. Organizations will still rely on communications strategies to deal with these publics (audiences), which will still be the job of media relations professionals.
While I’m basing this post on my initial reaction to a single post, I think we’re on the same page here. I think Todd’s closing thought sums things up best, “The Next 50 Years Will Be Better Than The Last 50 Years.” Though, I think the public relations industry as a whole will see far more change in the next five years than we have in the past 50. Either way, when all the “media relations is dying” talk dies down, I think we’ll see the practice emerge stronger than ever.