Interested? Ring 0141 569 0342 or get in touch

The Scottish PR World’s a-Changing

Friday, April 4th, 2014

2014 is an interesting year to launch a Scottish PR company

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.

Scottish PR company head David Sawyer's first Guardian..

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.

This is down mainly to consumer habits. Take me, for example. I love newspapers, love broadcast media, can’t get enough of it. I listen to Today in the morning and grab Channel Four News on +1.

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:

  • When I started in PR, we used to post out press releases. When we heard some organisations were emailing press releases, we wondered whether it would ever catch on.
  • We also faxed releases to journalists, until 2004.
  • In 1997, the circulation of the Daily Record was around 700,000 (which some of us thought a ‘poor show’). It’s now 215,000.
  • Social media didn’t exist at the start of 1997. Six Degrees was launched that year, sold at the height of the dotcom boom and ceased in 2001.
  • At the end of last year, Facebook had 1.23bn users worldwide, 556m of whom accessed their Facebook every day through their smartphone or tablet. A staggering 24m Brits logged on to Facebook every day. As a PR tool for communicating your organisational messages to your key audiences, Facebook is phenomenal.
  • Twitter has 241 million monthly active users while Google+ (the one everyone thinks they don’t need to bother about) has 1bn+ users. If your business is online it has to be on Google+, if only for the SEO benefits.
  • Linkedin has 300m active users, including me.
  • Facebook, Twitter, Google+ did not exist in 1997.

This infographic gives you a great overview of the main social networks and what they can offer to public and private sector organisations.

Scottish PR company Zude PR's social media overview.

(Source: Leverage. Social media image via Shutterstock.)

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.

Scottish PR company Zude PR's laptop shipment.

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.

If you want to read more blog posts like this, via email, sign up to my list.

Get Weekly World Class Digital Marketing and PR Tips That Make Money


Would you like to share your thoughts?

Leave a Reply