Friday, January 22, 2010

Losing Control: Can Media Relations Specialists Get a Grip?

This is the first posting of 4 part series on media relations.

Media Relations specialists are losing control because of lightning speed changes that are impacting the world today. There is no doubt that the world of journalism is at major crossroads. According to a recent study commissioned by The Media Center at the American Press Institute, media futurists predict that by 2021 "citizens will produce 50% of the news." Given this, many say that the future of the media will rely less on how the media help shape the news and encourage the democratic process, but more on how well the media is able to stimulate conversation and create dialogue. These changes in turn, are creating new challenges for the media relations specialist.

The ability to guide the message and "own the story" traditionally had been the backbone of media relations. Today experts have to stay more focused to maintain their messages. Reporters are now not only getting their information from traditional sources but they are now getting ideas and even quotes from Twitter and other blogoshpere sources. Reporters are now looking for story ideas, trends and even points of view from people's blogs and tweets. Some reporters are even following customer service comments that are easily accessible online through corporate websites. From these comments, good or bad, entire stories are generated. If one is looking for a voice, thousands of people are ready to speak. Everything is ou there to be shared so no wonder the idea of controlling the story is a quaint and almost forgotten notion. That's why media relations must re-invent itself so that it can continue to be effective in a social media world.


  1. I completely agree with your post! The whole idea of media relations is for these PR experts to find new, innovative ways to reach their target audience and create dialogue. Since citizen journalism is such an important part of this, creating Twitter accounts and Facebook Fan Pages are the number one way to get the message out there. It is about time however that news became not about what major media publications feel like delivering, but rather what citizens continuously discuss. Although they are creating new challenges, one media relations experts begin to master this technique, it will enforce the need for unique stories in order to get more coverage both in the media and by customers. The quote offered at the beginning of the post definitely summarizes how news is today I feel. Good post.

  2. I completely agree with the fact that media relations people need to re-invent themselves to be more effective with social media. Blogs, Twitter, and Facebook are taking over the realm of news. Highly acclaimed news outlets such as CNN and NBC sometimes update their web presence before the news is able to hit television. For example, I found out about the recent earthquake in Chile via Twitter of Anderson Coopers CNN show '360'.

    The thousands of users online are making their own news by ways of these outlets. Just today Lady Gaga updated her twitter letting fans know that her new highly anticipated music video comes out on 3/8. Her official website has yet to even post that news. This is a small example of how personalities are using social media as a means to get news out to the public.