Internet killed the TV star

Recent research from Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at Oxford University shows that for the first time in 2017 the internet has overtaken TV as a source of news and social media has overtaken print.  So what does this mean for the PR practitioner?

The changing landscape for information has revolutionised the PR industry: which is good for those of us who have been around for a while as everything would have got very dull otherwise.

Some of those old skills by which PR practitioners were defined – not always in a friendly way – are looking a bit dated. 

That well-thumbed black book of journalist contacts, the long “keeping in touch” lunches, the art of selling in a great story to sceptical writers, the squirming apologies to clients when the story didn’t appear – or appeared heavily edited. 

All this is swept aside in a brave new world where we are more in charge of the story than ever.  No PR agency can survive now with average copywriters – your content needs to be relevant, informed, engaging and very very suitable to your target audience.

And there’s no shirking responsibility either.  No more “it’s in that publication so 20,000 people could have read it”.  With entirely trackable analytics we know exactly who has read that article.  Get it right and it’s great.

We recently promoted a blog post to electrical contractors via Facebook.  We had to play around a bit with the wording and the presentation, but once we got it right, bingo: over 10k people went through to the website and read the blog.  And we know they read it, because we know how long they spent on that page and where they went next.

Success is down to getting the right information, expressed in the right way, to the right people.

We also recently did a bit of sneaky research on the websites of various housebuilders to find out how their 500k or so visitors per month found their sites.  Browser search is number one. No surprise, but that reinforces  again the view that a website regularly updated with high quality content, designed to attract inbound visitors – and yes, we are looking at SEO – is vital.  It’s that copywriting thing again.

For us content creators, it’s heaven.  We are more in control of what people read than ever and those traditional copywriting skills are valuable as never before.

Just one reservation: those resistant, well-informed journalists did act as our defenders against misinformation and fake news.  We might have railed against perceived political bias in our media, but I have a sneaking feeling we will miss them when they’re gone.