Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Print Closures: Proof of Social Media Transition

Talk of the digital transition can be found everywhere you look on-line. No, I'm not talking about the transition from analog to digital broadcast. I'm referring to the transition of consumer's media channel preferences. More and more people are getting their news and information from the Web. They are reading blogs, checking out Web sites, or using a variety of social media tools to get their media fix.

There is a call for instant gratification and socialization. So, when I hear about the closure of the Rocky Mountain News, I am not taken by surprise. While it is always sad to see any long-standing and well respected news source go under, it is simply the nature of the beast. PR pros should take this as a clear message that many more print publications will follow.

Still, this is a reality that PR pros should have been prepared for long ago. Although the folding of an established newspaper will eliminate many opportunities for PR agencies in that region, those firms should be adept at pitching social media outlets by now. The growing prominence of blogs, news Web sites, forums, micro-blogging sites, social networking sites, etc. has been widely discussed and studied in PR circles around the globe.

I understand there are many aspects of daily print-focused journalism that will be terribly missed. But, sophisticated and well-informed PR pros must learn to ride the tide and adapt accordingly. This change in consumer preference will continue and the practice of public relations will grow more accustomed to the evolution of their field. It is their job to find stakeholders and reach them wherever they may be.

Hearst disclosed it will put the San Fransisco Chronicle up for sale or close it unless expense cuts can be achieved, reports PRWeek. Many other publishers have stated similar concerns, and have publicly acknowledged their failure to adapt and remain relevant. People want information instantly and there are no signs indicating that will change. With RSS, instant news updates and greater segmentation are alive and well. Niche targeting has become an absolute necessity. This may call for greater understanding and segmentation of stakeholders, but there is a lot to be gained as well. Specifically targeting an audience with media placement in a newspaper is a challenge. Specifically targeting an audience placement on TechCrunch is a given.

Pitching to bloggers may be a relatively new practice for many PR pros, but they better get on board. The fundamentals are the same, but the stakes have changed. Many bloggers don't know the rules of the game, which can prove to be frustrating for seasoned PR people. Plus, blogger's lack of credibility and timeliness can be a challenge when compared to more traditional print media.

Tech-centric areas such as northern California are leading the herd in regards to targeting niche Web sites and blogs, as they have utilized video and other interactive features for breaking product news. And, while many are attempting to argue that social media is only a trend, the true visionaries are not willing to wait out the storm. As print closures continue to happen, there is no time to waste. Stubbornness is not a sought after personality trait in this industry. If you are waiting for more proof of social media's relevance, you will be left behind and left for dead.

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