What It Means To Be Media Savvy Today

This is a guest post by Alison Kenney.

The media landscape is evolving more quickly than ever before and traditional mass media is changing faster than you can say “Google Reader.”  PR professionals must understand the changes in order to be effective in their work and manage the impact these changes are having on the PR industry.

How media savvy are you these days?

PR pros who work in media relations know that newspapers, magazines and other print media are disappearing at an alarming rate.  Rick Edmonds, a business analyst at the Poynter Institute, a journalism training center in Florida, estimates that newspapers have reduced their spending on journalism by $1.6 billion per year over the past few years.  Since the market is not supporting traditional print publications, other options have been floated – such as having the government support newspapers, establishing non-profit journalism centers, charging for online content and more.  Traditional broadcast media is becoming more and more niche with special programming, online extensions, satellite (radio) offerings and more.  These changes dramatically affect the way PR professionals pitch the media and the amount of media exposure and coverage PR reps can secure these days.  For example, many newsrooms state their current editorial mission, such as focusing more on local news and relying on wire services to provide the rest, when they announce cut-backs, and now reporters who don’t have the “column inches” to write all the stories they did in the past may use their blog to cover those stories.  Online outlets, even those that are extensions of established media, always seem to need more content than they have and often accept contributed articles from non-journalists.

Social media has had a huge impact on public relations with its stressing of two-way, many-to-many interactions and communications.  Social media offers countless creative opportunities to the PR profession for communicating with different audiences, from making it possible to learn more about people and build relationships to hosting virtual events and enhancing live events, conducting market research with online groups and supporting branding and marketing with search engine optimization (SEO) efforts.

With fewer opportunities to communicate via established media, many PR folks are turning to self-publishing opportunities, such as podcasts, blogs, wikis, YouTube and other video.  Big brands have caught on to this and are using new media to pitch directly to consumers.

Being media savvy used to mean understanding what makes a good pitch, which outlets will be most interested in the story and using the right tools to get that pitch across.  Wait a minute; it still does!

Alison Kenney is an independent PR practitioner with more than 15 years of PR consulting experience.  She is based on Boston’s North Shore and has worked with organizations in the technology, professional services and consumer industries.  She can be reached at alisonkenney at comcast dot net.

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