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January 27, 2011
PR's Brave New Digital Media World

A MUST read for public relations and media people alike is the State of the Media Report 2011, Adapting, Surviving and Reviving issued by Vocus, the maker of PR management software. Written by a team of former media people, the report documents how today's media realm is being transformed into a digital one. There are plenty of opportunities for digitally-oriented PR people in the new alignments, the Vocus team finds. But don't shun digital as a geek's fad. 

"As a direct result of changing media platforms," the report concludes, "PR pros are now a part of the media in a way they never have been before. They now blog, tweet, and even interview famous journalists, as digital analyst and FutureWorks principle Brian Solis did with Katie Couric. Some even receive pitches. In this way, PR professionals can now promote themselves like never before through all the media platforms now available to them.

"The basics of good PR never go away," the report adds, "but the means to execute them continues (stet) to evolve. As we head into 2011, PR professionals must make sure to use all the new and wonderful tools available while continuing to execute PR campaigns with relevance, attention to detail and social media mindedness."

Rupert Murdoch is expected shortly to launch a subscription-based, iPad-only newspaper The Daily, the first tablet newspaper. (Where carrier boys once rang doorbells to collect weekly subscription fees, Apple reportedly is struggling with subscription software it's trying to integrate into iTunes.)  

The best news in the Vocus report is that the media "freefall" that was occurring in 2009 "began to slow down" in 2010.

"This time last year," the report summarizes, "hundreds of newspapers and thousands of magazines had folded. The number of folds were fewer this year, but traditional media continues to move in a new media direction. Approximately 102 magazines launched as digital-only or went exclusively online, while hyperlocal newspaper-type sites grew rapidly, especially AOL's Patch.com."

Of 724 newspaper launches in 2010, "all but 36 were Patch.com sites." (From our brief exposure to Patch.com, active now in 18 states and the District of Columbia, it truly is hyperlocal, with locally based editors advising of weather conditions and school closings, among other things.)

The new media world isn't as ink-stained as the old one, and is becoming less so. The new, digital modes of content are different, better in some respects than the old ones, weaker in others. It's a momentous time for sorting out what's occurring and for learning new disciplines. The Vocus report is important for coping with the changes in all the media—newspapers, magazines,  television and radio—and sensing what the new media business models are about. Social media permeate the scene. 

Thanks, Vocus! 

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Doug Bedell has a background in journalism and PR and is the owner of Resource Relations LLC in Central PA, focusing on organizational and crisis communication. He’s the community manager of SimplyFair.net, a social network on fairness. On the Web, Doug’s at www.ResourceRelations.com. On Twitter, he’s @DougBeetle.
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