What does ‘new media’ mean for the public relations industry?

Written by Kimberley Welman on 1 September 2017

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What does ‘new media’ mean for the public relations  industry?

There is a tremendous amount of buzz around ‘new media’ in the communications industry at the moment. Whether it’s online news channels, social media outlets, influencer partnerships,  video clips, info-graphics, e-blasts  or blog posts, there are more delivery mechanisms for a  public relations  professional to tap into than ever before.  It makes for one bustling communications  industry.

As our  managing director, Jeremy Scott, celebrates 27  years at the coalface of communications strategy and execution this month, we thought such a milestone would make for a timely blog post (us, new media folk!) Having steered  Promedia  for almost three decades, we asked  the boss for his view on the digital platforms and what ‘new media’ actually means for public relations professionals. Here’s a quick summary of his #wordsofwisdom.

New media is a whole new ball-game for the communications industry and it’s one that has evolved fairly quickly. Consumers have a plethora of information available to them anywhere and at anytime and such accessibility boasts tremendous publicity opportunities for businesses, provided it’s handled professionally. Digital media, publicity and reputation management go hand-in-hand, and that’s why PR continues to be a key arm of both small and large businesses.

The new media channels offer additional avenues for organisations and individuals  to communicate with their audiences, however that doesn’t mean that it makes it easier to communicate messages now. In actual fact, it means organisations must get smarter, more nimble and more strategic than ever before. It’s also important to note that  the fundamentals of  traditional media and PR remain untouched and are still well and truly the crux of a successful communications campaign. Consumers still want news, information and  narratives from credible news and industry sources. The key for PR professionals is to inject the new media into a campaign so that it works in unison with the traditional realms.  When you strike a balance between the two, the result is more powerful communications and messaging.

That balance comes down to strategy. Just like a traditional media release, pitch to a journalist or company statement – every single word that is written or spoken on new media must be part of an overriding strategy. That means that every single post, image, video clip, comment or blog must be there and on the right channel, for a solid reason. It must complement the mechanisms, timing and goals of the traditional PR plan. Once that strategy is devised, it must be implemented with a detailed schedule to ensure the platforms work in synergy.

To strike that synergy and maximise both traditional and new media opportunities, a useful way to look at the two mechanisms is:  Traditional media and PR drives a professional communications campaign. New media allows a business to continue to create traction and awareness (in a softer, more personable tone) in-between the ‘news worthy’ activity used in the  traditional media campaigns.

Both realms require their own compelling and authentic content. Both  require their own high-quality visuals. Both realms require professional relationships and contacts with industry sources. Both  require careful execution, together with  skilled management.

Traditional media and PR still has control of the steering wheel in terms of credible press coverage, publicity, reputation management and industry and corporate communications, but when  backed up with the right content as part of an integrated digital communications program, there can be an exponential lift in the  value to  a  business.

Embrace the new media communications, but just remember that it doesn’t replace  traditional communications. Strategise the campaign to find the synergy.