The good, the bad and the ugly

Some interesting, some ridiculous and some sublime stories online last week about the state of the media industry and the future of the PR industry…

Let’s start with the interesting one.

PR Week reported that  the media industry is in a real crisis with 2009 potentially its worst year yet.

According to ‘The State of the News Media Report” , people are flooding online but online ad models aren’t going to generate anything like the same revenues as offline (is that really still a surprise?). The report actually concluded that classified advertising at newspapers could be nonexistent within five years!  The recession of course isn’t going to help…

This is the backdrop for the “urgent need for change”, “industry dying on its feet” PR nonsense / detritus that came out of the SXSW conference too.

Now, the Pew Study revealed that while nearly four in 10 Americans go online for news, up 19% from two years ago, they are still largely visiting online news sites like the NY Times (5th) and Tribune papers (6th) – although CNN, MSNBC and Yahoo News were the top three.  Nonetheless even the most popular blogs were nowhere near the top 10 in terms of traffic numbers.

But, according to commentators at SWSW, media relations as we know it is already dead and PR agencies are a dying breed. For me, this falls into the category of ridiculous.

Why on earth would PR agencies not be relevant just because the media landscape is changing? If you consider PR agents as brokers of information, then the more diversity that exists in the channels through which we can communicate the greater our potential.  Most of the people who are fueling this fire have launched agencies that claim to shun traditional PR techniques in favor of new “cutting edge” media techniques – the likes of which a normal PR agency is just incapable of comprehending.  Like rich media content creation (taking that enormous step from the written word to the spoken one) and social media press releases (really, how can those words even be used together!?).

In reality of course, intelligent PR people will just evolve their skills in tune with the evolving media (and non-media) landscape, adopting and incorporating new tactics and strategies as they always have.

And now the sublime – and I don’t think I have ever read a more ridiculous piece, dressed up as it is as an independent issues-based contribution to Ad Week.  No wonder the media are going out of business if this is the sort of thing they are willing to put their name to.

Who Owns Social Media – a clue:  don’t look to digital agencies or PR shops

Written by a guy who just launched his own…wait for it….social media agency.

“But don’t take my word for it. Continue to vest your future in companies that build elaborate destination Web sites, construct parties that nobody shows up to and deliver ostensibly social solutions that reek of control, manipulation and fakery.”

Now there’s a bit of competition bashing that smacks of desperation to me!

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