Media Relations is Evolving, Not Dying

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 has changed over the past decade. We also share a pet peeve for 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 professional 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 alltogether. 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 on 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.

(Photo Credit: tifotter Tiff)

About Jeremy Porter 214 Articles
Jeremy Porter has been passionate about the intersection of public relations and journalism since studying both Public Relations and Journalism at Utica College of Syracuse University in the late 90s. Porter launched Journalistics in 2009 to share his ideas and insights around both professions and how trends and developments in modern day marketing, communications, and technology impact those working in these fields. Porter also values the traditions and history of both professions and regularly shares his perspective in these areas - and related topics geared toward the next generation of journalism and public relations professionals.


  1. Thank you for this post, Jeremy. I read Defren’s post and was a bit taken aback at the suggestion that media relations is “dying” (perhaps I skim-read it too fast). Your explanation of media relations evolving makes much more sense to me! 🙂

  2. Jeremy,

    Well-said! Thank you so much for giving this craft the respect it deserves. It’s important to get this message out as far and wide as we can. Communications continues to evolve, just as traditional marketing is. The good news is that PR/Communications pros can help companies manage this slippery slope very effectively. Those that can adapt, will survive the “connected era.” Those that continue to predict “doom and gloom” will be left in the dust.

  3. I couldn’t have said it better myself. More and more often, PR folks seem to be charged with the task of directly created content the consumer will see. Blogs, Twitter, Facebook and everything else allow a company to directly communicate with their fans and buyers, so it’s no wonder public relations is changing.

  4. First of all, I want to say that i like this site. Intellegent discourse in pr biz is refreshing. Having been a media relations professional for nearly 20 years, here’s my take. The media landscape IS changing. It fragmenting and proliferating. From my perspective, that’s the point. There are more outlets (cable programming is exploding) and more tools (twitter among them) to reach prospective audiences and influence opinions. Seems to me all the hype over web 2.0 being the death nell of media relations is coming from folks who either are drunk on social media technology or were never really effective at strategic media relations. And what is that? Targeted pitches based on specific topics. Plenty of pr firms do an array of services. Good media relations pros are a unique breed. They possess two key skills: awareness of their audience and exquisit story tellering capabilities. Which leads me back focus of the post. The tools may change but the song remains the same. Twitter and the like should be viewed as mearly an arrow in a quiver. Not a panacea for all pr. Those parading about suggesting otherwise don’t know what they are talking about. I have number of B2B clients for whome twitter and blogging has little value. A two minute segment on CNBC however can drive sales and impact the bottom line. It’s all in targeting and selective use of tools based on the audience. That’s media releations. What’s more, organizations will always need professionals distilling their information in order to tell compelling stories – whether that be through a press release, query letter, telephone pitch, tweet or blog post. They possess neither the resources, expertese or time to executive sustained campaigns. That’s why media relations pros will always have value in the communciations marketplace. We just need to adapt and innovate to harness the tools of the day.

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