Your boss may not realise it yet but over the next couple of years the public relations industry is going to face some really serious challenges. In fact, unless your boss is willing to take digital PR seriously then it may be time to switch to an agency who have decided to secure their future.
Clients are talking about digital, are you going to offer them digital solutions?
The ratio between public relations professionals and journalists is becoming unbalanced. With roughly 60,000 PRs working in the UK against a mere 50,000 journalists (Can’t find the reference for this but the ratio is roughly true), traditional media engagement is getting tougher. Journalists are going to face increased time pressure to file their stories and PR Professionals are going to find it harder to have their story heard.
Only a couple of weeks ago did I speak with a journalist concerning a client story, only to be told that it was interesting but couldn’t be covered due to a lack of reporters and a full publication.
Physical publications are thinning and some amateur outlets, such as blogs, are commanding equal or better visitor figures. Just look at our industry’s rag, PR Week, each month featuring slightly fewer pages. Any existing pages are then taken up by advertising. This is a trend occurring across publications of all genres.
Physical content is becoming secondary to online. Newspapers and magazines won’t die completely but instead a balance will be met with online content.
Increase competition with press relations requires PR Professionals to instead focus on digital strategies. Your boss may not be happy about this. By offering yourself up as a digital genie you may be treading on the toes of past experience and safety.
By the way, if you are looking for safety then the PR industry is not for you. Most agency ships are sinking through safety. Embrace digital or jump ship.
I’ll admit, some of social is a jargonised mess; social activity could be classed as “buzz” or “establishing thought-leadership” but most clients will expect more. The public relations industries biggest competitor is advertising and, as I have said before, this industry has cracked it. They have established their own online measurements and can directly provide clients with sales.
Some agencies have realised the importance of measurement and have established (or are on the way to establish) their own processes. Other agencies will get left behind in the digital measurement scramble. Whether you believe it or not; public relations is now required to impact sales. In my belief this has always been the case, it doesn’t devalue the rest of PRs’ offerings but it will become a growing requirement in this tough economic climate.
The future of PR is now totally dependent on how we decide to measure our online activities. Surviving the ever-changing media landscape is key for PR professionals and, as I have indicated in this post, media evolution goes far beyond social media but instead looks at the meaning behind our activities.
Now, are you ready to tell your boss this?