What exactly do these extreme changes in the media landscape mean for PR? When the world around you shifts (and by shift I mean seismic ground-breaking panic-seizing, casualty-inducing movements that rip through the globe), would you continue to walk down the same old road and expect to reach the same destination? No, of course not, the path is different, altered forever. We've all seen those earthquake movies - roads ripped apart, lava pouring out of craters, buildings crashing and general Hollywood terror.
Speaking metaphorically of course, this is exactly what is happening to the media landscape. So maybe there is no lava, but buildings are certainly crashing and many things are being ripped apart. This is serious PG rating stuff. The irony however is that PR, as if by some parallel script, continues as per usual.
The hero of the story
In my mind, this is where PR, specifically within the lifestyle sectors, could and should become the hero of the story. Literally.
Lets roll back the cameras and cut to the part where Zuckerberg and Dorsey pull the luxury pile carpet out from under the feet of the traditional media giant. The plot thickens with the global recognition of super-bloggers and the rise of the likes of Bryan Boy in fashions' front row. The more the merrier we cry as everyone literally becomes their own publisher (and of course with the help of Instagram, photographer too).
Everyone wants his or her name in lights. Quick off the mark, digital versions of every glossy become the norm, not to mention the daily updates on multiple channels. In no time, it is a media frenzy - millions of publishing channels, each with an audience (albeit sometimes very small) all trying their best to attract the advertisers' money in order to survive.
The question about sustainability
The question on everyone's lips is sustainability; who will be around for the sequel? The recent demise of key lifestyle publications reveals a picture far from that of blockbuster material.
The reason is simple - because the cost of creating and producing content is extraordinarily expensive. The old model of highly paid creative staff in big swanky offices producing three stories in a month, simply does not work. The demand today is three times as much, with half the money and a quarter of the people. Hello publishing.
So, back to our unsung hero: PR. This is the part in my mind where he (or she as I'm really not sure on it's personified gender) amid the ensuing chaos, ducks into the telephone booth and seconds later emerges to save the day.
Lycra suit or not, he (let's just leave it at the masculine gender for now) rescues the journalist who by this point is hanging from the ledge by her fingernails. Just how does he save her? It's not through his rippling muscles or sticky web, but instead with the efficient availability of appropriate content that is carefully curated.
Who's the hero now?
I take nothing away from journalists and by no means am I suggesting that they are not the absolute keeper to the creativity and gateway of their editorial, but let's face it, if someone has taken the time to do the ground work, crossed the t's, dotted the i's and most importantly given it the specific spin required by the journalists brand and channel, it's no surprise that they will use it. And for your client, tadaaa - who's the hero now?
From hero to superhero, this kryptonite power comes through collaboration and this is where the strength of niche PR players really can save the day. By working brands together and utilizing multi dimensional content to create a story offers the publication a truly editorial and credible source. It literally becomes cut and paste material.
So PR hero's, it's time to step out from your cubicles, break out of your grey Clark Kent suits, put on your bold lycra and flex those muscles. It's a whole new world out there and one that needs your help.
Lorrianne Cloete is the owner and founder of the Press Room, a Cape Town based boutique PR and marketing consultancy specialising within fashion and retail, as well as the founder and co-owner of Press Stick, an online content portal for the media industry. Contact her on tel +27(0)83 4482557, email and follow @lorriannecloete on Twitter.
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