A long time ago there were reporters and publicists, an often adversarial relationship in which publicists would spend their days trying to convince reporters to write something–anything–about their clients.
In recent decades, reporters have generally enjoyed more congenial, mutually beneficial relationships with public relations professionals. PR people became information brokers, serving as reliable resources for reporters looking for good stories to tell. This, for the most part, is the way it is today.
However, much like the technology that puts a computer, phone, still and video camera, and a TV screen into a single hand-held device, the two professions are rapidly converging. In the Internet’s world, reporters and PR practitioners are often both referred to as “content providers,” hired to fill an infinite amount of cyberspace with stories, data, news, photos, video, and interactive information.
As traditional media impact shrinks, rough estimates put the number of active web sites at more than 700 million and blogs at 200 million worldwide. There’s tremendous need for content that can tell a story, distribute facts, inspire participation, motivate actions, sell products and services, and change opinions. This work is being placed upon PR pros exponentially; they’re providing content for clients on web, news and magazine sites; blogs and podcasts; YouTube and other social media; and countless other platforms. The World Wide Web is incredibly hungry for content.
While this hunger creates a golden opportunity for PR people and their clients to reach their audiences, it also creates a huge need for effective writers. And while good punctuation and grammar are still highly valued, the search is on for public relations writers who can tell stories in a compelling, relatable way. As content providers, public relations practitioners must be able to be both technical and creative, straightforward and humorous, informative and inspiring. Web content isn’t just to fill space; it–like all PR work–also has to create, reinforce and change attitudes.
I’ve said it countless times here and in my classrooms: in PR, good writing is not only important, it’s essential, now more than ever because “content is king.” Your thoughts?