The rise of PR...and decline of journalism

The rise of PR...and decline of journalism

Is it the end for journalism as we know it? Julia Sahin weighs in.

Editor's Note: The following is an opinion piece by Julia Sahin. There has been a lot of talk in the PR and journalism worlds lately about the changing journalism landscape. A recent Yahoo Education article named journalism to its list of jobs nearing extinction. Here at Muck Rack, we hope that PR professionals and journalists will continue to work together to share stories and important content for many years to come, but we see the importance of shedding light on all perspectives. Journalists- we'd love your opinion on this topic. If you're interested in sharing your thoughts on how journalism is evolving, please email us at jessica.lawlor@muckrack.com.

It’s time to face the new reality of the communications industry: public relations is on the rise…and journalism is declining. It’s a new landscape that is changing the way we interact and how companies devise their communication plans. This is not to say that the role of credible publications will ever disappear, but it’s certainly changing. 

Here’s the proof: 

1. Branded content is on the rise. Some time ago, “thought leadership” became a buzzword. Then came content marketing, branded content, advertorials, etc. It’s becoming a priority for businesses to show their customers and industry that they are thought leaders. This allows a company to have its name published, without waiting for it to be mentioned in a newspaper article.  Branded content certainly falls under the PR umbrella. 

2. Media Relations is changing. Last year, industry professionals were talking about the death of the news release. Then the SEC announced that material information can be announced via social media. Now, everyone is a journalist and every company is a media company. The role of media relations is changing because of technology and its impact on communications. The role of media relations is evolving and it’s becoming more sophisticated.  

3. It’s not just about earned media. It’s now a mix of earned, paid, shared and owned media. PR professionals are now writing content for social media (shared media) and thought leadership (owned media) articles. Earned and paid media are still important, but the combination of all four is even more powerful.  

4. Publications need to change strategies to win the battle. I attended a Branded Content Seminar last month and a New York Times journalist talked about the challenges of operating in the new world. Newspapers have been decreasing headcount and print editions, and have been changing their business models to adapt to digital demands. This is not to say that an article in a credible publication is losing its value. It’s not. But consumers and customers aren’t looking only at a newspaper for news and information. 

5. The PR industry is booming. I won't say that PR will replace journalism, but the industry has an impressive outlook. That’s because leaders understand the value of PR as it connects to their business goals. And in terms of media relations, they realize they need to tell their stories (and respond to inquiries) accurately and in a timely manner. And because the industry is booming…

6. Journalists are moving into the PR world. They realize that the shift is happening, and an increasing number of former journalists are becoming PR professionals (citing reasons like higher pay and layoffs), mainly working in media relations. Welcome to our world. 

7. Trust in media isn’t improving. The Edelman Trust Barometer measures trust from general and informed publics worldwide in different industries. For the third year in a row, media is trusted third from the bottom—only above banks and financial services and way below technology, automotive and food and beverage. Though there have been improvements over the years, it still remains low on the list. 

8. Skills required for PR professionals include journalism writing. Though writing has always been important in PR, the practice now requires a different type of writing ranging from standard press releases to news in 140 characters and company blogs. We now write features on executives and stories about new company projects to fulfill the increased transparency in business. Take a look at any job description, and you will see the changes reflected there. 

9. Flexibility is ingrained in PR. We have always dealt with ambiguity and had to adapt quickly to new trends, evolving news and changes in the business environment. This rapid change is the world we live and operate in now, and PR professionals are able to adapt to the changing business environment.

It’s important to understand the changes in our industries and the interaction between the two. But the proof is clear: the future of PR is brighter. 

PR pros and journalists- what do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Julia Sahin is a PR & Corporate Communications graduate student at NYU and a PR consultant. She plans on doing big things. 

Photo: "The End" typewriter via Shutterstock

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