Monday, May 08, 2006

CGM Ends the Symbiotic Relationship Between PR and Journalism

Today the blogosphere – a subset of Consumer Generated Content (CGM) – regularly scavenges the Mainstream Media (MSM) for ideas on “what to write about.”

This is a testament to the influence and power of MSM, which for a hundred-plus years has served as the “official record” of our lives. MSM had the resources and the captive audience to cement its dominance. Until the advent of broadband and blogs (and, more recently, “social voting” systems like digg), consumers did not have the tools to crack open “broadcasting” through the power of “conversation.”

As our relationship to MSM evolves, we can predict a “paradigm shift” in terms of News Generation.

Today, in addition to coming up with their own ideas, journalists listen to PR pros “pitch” them, along the lines of, “This would be a great story for your readers because (fill in the blank).”

Because we do our research in advance, because we can tie a ribbon on a story by providing everything from statistics to alternate story angles to user references, PR folks have become pretty good at this aspect of News Generation. For the past 50 years, there has been a symbiotic relationship between Journalism and PR: we help develop the stories that we need them to write; they need something to write about.

But at its core, Journalism’s chief responsibility is to its audience. Journalism must report on what is of-interest to its consumers.

And this audience for the first time has the power to create and communicate their interests through their own content, their own news, their own likes&dislikes. More so than ever, the funnel has flipped: because this consumer audience is engaged in an on-going, real-time conversation, trends can develop much faster, and, importantly, these trends can be tracked.

Which means that as a meme filters from “wide/dispersed/unimportant” to “trendy” to “controversial,” journalists will be forced to report on it. No PR intervention required.

We’ve been trying to start trends by getting mainstream reporters to broadcast our concepts, and we hope the message resonates with consumers. While that’s still worth doing (for now), journalists are now looking OUTSIDE traditional symbiotic relationships, to the Blogosphere, to source ideas. They’re cutting out the middlemen.

We must widen our lens to make sure that the conversation about our clients starts in the wider world. We can no longer solely rely on the benevolence of the professional journalist.

3 Comments:

Blogger Kami Huyse, APR said...

I have been thinking along these lines for awhile now. I think it is one case for employing social media for clients. However, I also think it is just a refinement of what has always been, journalists looking for trends. Before they would use PR resources that fit into the trends, now they go out to a bigger group to track them.

May 08, 2006  
Blogger PR-Guy said...

Agreed. And that's what ought to scare us (at least a li'l bit).

May 09, 2006  
Blogger HarryC said...

OMG! I was thinking that it was the MSM that was being disintermediated. Now I find that I'm being disintermediated. Worse, I might be distermediating myself!

May 15, 2006  

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