Times have changed in the world of public relations. Social media is reinventing the profession and it’s no longer enough to just offer traditional media relations and associated services.
The main driver for this change has been the Internet and the underpinning technological advancements which have led to superfast broadband speeds for all. In 2014, the average Western European spends more time on their smartphone or tablet than watching the TV.
Having worked for a global PR agency in Scotland for the past 12 or so years, and with 17 years’ experience as a PR consultant in Scotland, and now setting up my own business roughly halfway through my career, today seems as good a time as any to reflect on the changes that have taken place in the way we consume news since I was born. Particularly since 1997, when I began my career in Scottish PR.
Back on Saturday 4 November 1972, print was king. Every paper had an industrial and labour correspondent, and disputes between workers and bosses dominated the news agenda. I grew up in a household with a keen interest in current affairs. Radio Four was always on (in every room) and my parents read The Guardian/Observer religiously every day. But that wasn’t all that unusual; everyone “took a paper”. I remember thinking it very odd that one of my mate’s parents only bought the Radio and TV Times.
It seems like a bygone era now. While still very important, print media circulations are plummeting. As the last UK General Election demonstrated, there’s still room for TV and radio but it is social and online media which are changing everything.
I get my print news from the Metro (when I use public transport) and specialist magazines such as Management Today and Runner’s World. The news I would have in the past got from a daily paper, I get from the BBC News app on my tablet or smartphone, or keep a Google News window open in Chrome. I still take a paper but not every week, and only on a Saturday (The Guardian): more often than not it lasts me all week.
Why? Like many people with jobs and a young family, I’m busy. There literally are not enough hours in the day. I haven’t got time or the head space to read a paper from front to back or sit down at a set time every evening to watch the news. Most of it I’ve already received as a newsflash through the BBC News app on my Nexus 5, anyway.
So, if the way people receive news is changing, so must the PR profession. Traditional media is still very important, it’s still any decent Scottish PR company’s ‘bread and butter’ but a PR who doesn’t know his/her way around the ever-changing new digital landscape is not going to get very far.
To finish off, here are some examples of how things have changed in the PR industry in Scotland over the past 17 years:
This infographic gives you a great overview of the main social networks and what they can offer to public and private sector organisations.
So, the world’s a-changing. It’s less insular, more global, more interconnected. You don’t go to your local town to buy your computer anymore, like when I was a kid, you buy it off the Internet. And as this screenshot from my recent laptop purchase shows, it goes halfway round the world to get to you.
One final thought. While for many clients, getting their story in a key newspaper is still what they think about first when they need to ‘get some PR’ for something, it’s important to realise that, while still very important, there are other, often ‘better’ ways now of reaching their target audiences.
And a good Scottish PR company can help you with this, in these changed times.Get Weekly World Class Digital Marketing and PR Tips That Make Money