The impact of newsroom changes and the rise of social media on the practice of media relations * Timothy E. Bajkiewicza, , ,
* Jeffrey J. Krausb,
* Soo Yeon Hongc
* a Broadcast Journalism, School of Mass Communications, Virginia Commonwealth University, 901 W. Main Street, Room 1149D, Richmond, VA 23284-2034, United States * b Public Relations, Virginia Community College System, United States * c Public Relations, School of Mass Communications, Virginia Commonwealth University, United States * http://dx.doi.org.proxy1.lib.umanitoba.ca/10.1016/j.pubrev.2011.05.001, How to Cite or Link Using DOI * Permissions & Reprints
Recent changes in American media have resulted in direct impacts on the work of PR professionals, from newsroom reductions in traditional media outlets to the rise of social media. This study examines changes in the media relations dynamic with qualitative, in-depth interviews from 12 PR professionals in a medium, eastern U.S. city. Findings include PR professionals doing less traditional media relations, mostly attributable to downsized newsrooms, and frustration with the resulting dearth of institutional knowledge, influx of young, inexperienced reporters, and shallow stories. While participants see opportunities to inject unfiltered messages in media, overall they value reporter relationships and using social media in communication with them and in their job. Although new media are seen as one more task on an already very full PR plate, participants acknowledge their importance and growing relevance. Overall, PR professionals see their and the industry's future including both traditional and new media.
► Traditional media changes and rise of social media are affecting PR media relations. ► Qualitative analysis of 12 PR practitioner interviews in medium northeast U.S. city. ► Downsized newsrooms have PR professionals doing less traditional media relations. ► Reporter relationships still valued; using social media to communicate with them. ► PR future is mix of traditional and social media. Keywords
* Media relations;
* Social media;
* New media;
As go media so go media relations, widely viewed as critical for communicating important messages to various publics (Motion & Weaver, 2005) with information subsidies that meet journalists’ and organizations’ needs (Turk, 1985). As social media's star has risen – almost half of American adults used a social networking site in 2009 (Smith, 2009) – America's traditional news’ star has plummeted, with a 43% newspaper ad revenue drop since 2006 and $1.6 billion in lost reporting and editing due to cutbacks (Project for Excellence in Journalism, 2010). Shrinking newsrooms and pressure to publish online immediately have led to what Davies (2008) termed “churnalism:” Journalists vetting less and aggregating more. Media relations ties between PR practitioners and journalists have changed little for the past 23 years (Supa & Zoch, 2009), suggesting viable and valuable relationships. New, especially social, media have enhanced PR practice; however, PR practitioners rate traditional media as more accurate, credible, and ethical than social media or blogs (Wright & Hinson, 2010), providing support for continued PR/journalism relationships. This study qualitatively investigates PR practitioners’ perceptions regarding their media relations efforts with journalists considering (a) cutbacks in traditional newsrooms and (b) social media tools, aspects which published research have not addressed to date. 2. Method
Qualitative, in-depth interviews were conducted with 12 PR professionals (equally from profit, non-profit, and government) in summer 2009 in a medium-sized, eastern U.S. city with one daily newspaper, several weeklies, and five TV network affiliates that have all experienced typical newsroom...
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