A few weeks ago, I found this great blogpost from Shel Holtz that presented a convincing argument on the real roleof traditional news media today and the impact that public relations has onsourcing and sharing the news.

The post begins with the current news media reality:readership of newspapers (both print and online) is on the decline – due to anumber of factors including the impact of social media channels on howconsumers access and consume news on a daily basis.

According to a 2009Pew study, television remains the dominant news source for the public, with71 percent getting most of their national and international news fromtelevision. The Internet as a news source was favored by 42 percent, comparedwith 33 percent who cited newspapers. In 2008, for the first time more peoplesaid they got most of their national and international news from the Internetover newspapers.

The difference between Mr. Holz’s argument and what you readin 99 percent of similar stories is the position he places on traditional mediarelations activities in today’s “news grazing” world.

Contrary to what you may have read, the age of newspapers isnot over. However, the role that newspapers play in disseminating informationis shifting, as is the role of PR communicators.   

Yes, newspapers still deliver value for doing what they dobest – reporting the news – but they now also play the vital role of “newsdistributor” to social media channels where more people are getting theirinformation. Although the source may not be directly from print, probably thenewspaper’s Web site, the ultimate source is the newspaper.

Just think about all the content you see in blogs, onFacebook or Twitter … and how much of this content bubbles up in smallincrements and then is widely repurposed from traditional news sources once thenews becomes mainstream.

The reality of this new playing field is having your storytold well in a newspaper will actually increase the likelihood of mass socialdistribution, which becomes the source for the public.

A recent studyconducted by Cision and The George Washington University’s Graduate Schoolof Political Management found that 89 percent of journalists said they use blogsto research their stories. Sixty-five percent reported using social networkingsites such as LinkedIn and Facebook, and 52 percent use microblogging sitessuch as Twitter to do online research. 

Moving forward, what’s going to separate us as PR professionalsand true strategic partners in the eyes of our clients is everything thathappens before and after the story runs in the paper.

Cision’s study shows that journalists place a value on theinformation they receive from PR professionals, as well as content via socialmedia from the brands and companies themselves. We need to make sure ourclients’ content is shared via social media tools for journalists to find andsource and then share the resulting media through those channels again toconnect with customers and influencers.

— Janet Tyler 

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