Public Relations, a Look Ahead in New Media

Public Relations, a Look Ahead in New Media

With the rise of social media, there has been some discussion of how the PR industry will undoubtedly change.  Will it subside as new media outlets become more easily accessible to the public?  Will it grow as people try to figure out how best to leverage their company in the face of the changing market?  I address some of these issues in my post, “Social Media for Start Ups – New Roles for PR Agencies?

According to an article in PRSA, “Ad spending now smallest piece of communications pie, forecast says; public relations expected to see 9 percent growth,” PR is on the rise while other areas of communications are dropping off.  Even though communications spend went up by 2.3 percent in 2008, according to a New York Timesarticle, “A Look Ahead at the Money in the Communications Industry“, 2009 isn’t looking as promising.

Comm Spending

For 2009, Veronis Suhler expects overall advertising spending to drop 7.6 percent, with a 1 percent decline to follow in 2010. According to the firm’s estimates, the segments where advertising will decline most rapidly this year are newspapers (down 18.7 percent); consumer magazines (down 14.8 percent); radio (down 11.7 percent); and broadcast television (down 10.1 percent).

Comm Spending Percent Change

This is surprising since advertising was once the biggest investment in the communications realm, although it does not come as a shock that newspaper and magazine ads are falling to the wayside since readers are turning more and more to other mediums (especially online), causing more viral marketing/advertising to take off.  Traditional media in general seems to be phasing out as social media is taking a firmer grasp on society.

In a recent reportForrester Research asked 114 global companies with 250 employees or more what their 2009 budget looks like for social media, even during a downturn.  Fifty-three percent indicated an INCREASE in their social media budget and 42 percent indicated they’d keep their budgets at CURRENT levels, while only a mere 5 percent indicated they’d DECREASE their social media budget.  When compared with the developments in other areas of communications spending, this is an interesting trend that can be leveraged by PR agencies for clients willing to spend in other areas to get their messaging and company name out there.

The forecasted growth for the PR industry, though, is very encouraging.  It makes sense that as the traditional media outlets are declining, companies will turn to PR agencies to learn how to make the most splash in the new media scene.  PR professionals know all the ins and outs of dealing with journalists and publications, whether it’s through newspapers and magazines or Twitter and LinkedIn.  To keep up with the industry, PR agencies need to move into the modern era of social media marketing and networking, and become the experts that companies expect them to be.

*Includes event sponsorships and marketing, ad-sponsored games, and product palcement.

Whispering Through The Wires

Whispering Through The Wires

When trying to promote your client’s company or new product, it’s not always easy to generate immediate interest with the right people or outlets.  Reporters often find themselves bogged down by the vast number of email pitches they receive daily, or even hourly.  So perhaps a new tactic is needed.

A recent New York Times article, Spinning the Web, mentions such a tactic… not to pitch, but to “whisper in the ears” of the industry’s Who’s Who.  For the PR campaign in this article, the “Who’s Who” included leading technology start-up stars like Jay Adelson, the chief executive of Digg; Biz Stone, co-founder of Twitter; and Jason Calacanis, the founder of Mahalo.


Using social media tools to spread the news can help generate awareness so that when you do go to pitch media, they can say, “oh yeah, I’ve heard of that,” or “I remember seeing something about that.”  The key to “whispering” through social media though is to generate more whispers.  Getting influential social media gurus to re-tweet, post, or write about something you whispered will increase the likelihood of a journalist that you’re trying to target coming across the news on their own.

If they find it interesting, they’ll be more open to your pitch, or even, in a perfect world, come to you – the whisper initiator – to learn more.  If the media hears about the news – whether it be a company or product launch, or a new trend in the industry – and writes something, your goal of generating coverage has been achieved, and the journalist will like it better because they thought it was their idea.

The whispering targets in the New York Times article all have many followers on various social media outlets.  When they talk, people listen – or at least they have a better chance of people listening due to sheer numbers.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, Using Social Media To Generate Leads, there is a growing divide between traditional media like newspapers, television, and radio, and social media like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.  Using the newer channels to whisper through the wires is quickly becoming a trend – and finding out who to whisper to is the first step to generating buzz.