Is content changing the face of PR?
PR may be at the cusp of its evolution. The digital boom, the birth of the media hub and the fall of the journalist may have sparked the beginnings of a new trend within the industry that could inevitably lead to a new focus for PR jobs – content. So, is this really a new trend and if so what effect if any could this have upon how PRs are recruited in this changing landscape?
Birth of the ‘Media-Hub’
Back in February of this year, Global PR giant Edelman hired Richard Sambrook, the former head of BBC News as ‘Chief Content Editor’ in a move to help its clients develop their digital presence further by focusing on quality content generation. It then followed that up with the hiring of FT columnist Stefan Stern in May.
In a recent interview, Richard Edelman offered some insight into what he felt was happening within the industry and why the decision to hire Sambrook was made: “Every one of our clients needs to become a media company, to tell its own story and to do so, not just through podcasts or having employee bloggers but having an authoritative set of information that is easy to access by this ever evolving 24/7 world of media. We’re not trying to create a substitute for media; we’re trying to improve access to the corporate knowledge base.”
Meeting the challenge head on
This ideology of every company becoming its own media agency is no doubt something that many organisations have attempted in response to the digital boom. However, it is very easy to just plod along with the traditional PR methods and mess around on facebook whilst holding the belief that you are utilising these new avenues of communication, when in fact you’re not. It appears that this difficulty has been recognised by some within the industry and as such firms like Edelman are now attempting to offer a more digitally in-depth PR service to their clients, the driving force being to provide quality content.
Content, content, content
Tone, style, format – it all boils down to one thing, content. Whilst liaising with the press is an integral aspect of any PR role, its importance is weakened by the decline in stature of the journalist. They are no longer the gatekeepers; this has been proven by the rise in digital media and the many redundancies faced by journalists during the economic downturn. As such content generation is becoming an increasingly important skill to possess for the PR as it enables companies to bypass the journalism gauntlet – primarily where online content is concerned.
It would appear that journalists are also aware of this when seeking alternative careers, as our research indicates that out of all the PR candidates with a journalistic background, almost half of those (49.8%) were registered from 2009 onwards, showing a dramatic surge in journalists seeking a move to PR since the downturn.
The PR briefs we’re getting in do appear to bear this out. Over the past few months, we’ve seen a distinct trend of requests for candidates with the ability to generate quality content, as opposed to the traditional emphasis upon media relations. Clients are becoming more selective in terms of their recruitment process, particularly the larger agencies. And while writing tests are becoming more stringent, this shouldn’t really be an issue for most candidates - strong writing ability should be part of any good PR’s skill set.
Evolution of PR
So the PR talent has the capability, perhaps it’s just a case of brushing up, particularly for those new to the industry. For anyone looking for advice, I’d suggest putting some extra-curricular work in to bump up your writing skills – work experience placements with publishing houses and PR firms would be a good start.
These new developments could offer tremendous scope for PR candidates, the likelihood of new content driven teams being set up within agencies or even in-house is higher due to these new advancements in communication channels. The ‘dark side’ may be evolving once more.
Need more advice on PR jobs? Or looking for the most content capable PR talent? Then get in touch