I also feel like the oxygen is being sucked out of the room when somebody starts spraying about the death of media and PR. But then I remember that the media delivered the story that made me hyperventilate, and that the sprayer-in-question was using the media as PR conduit for their message.
Sure, media is changing … but it’s far from dead. Public relations is changing too, but it’s been doing that since my first job out of college where I’d spend 6 hours a night faxing basketball results around the country.
The first pose of my mental yoga on this matter is keeping in mind that we are living through an era that could truly be called the “bubble bubble.” One more rapid deflation of a seemingly impervious and skyscraping market shouldn’t really surprise us at this point ... but it does. After the dot-com bubble crashed, we didn’t stop using computers. And after the housing bubble imploded, it’s not like we scrapped windows, doors and wood.
I suppose it’s more than a little ironic that the media (which has definitely profited from covering bubbles) is enduring a bubble of their own. But the bursting of any bubble, even that of media, should be recognized as a valuable opportunity for change. The fact that PR is undergoing some changes at the same time shouldn’t be seen as a Swine Flu-level disturbance in the Force … it’s just business.
If you're still hyperventilating, try thinking through these cocktail party conversation starters:
* The best that social media has to offer comes in links to published works. Published works are supported by advertising. Advertising-supported works are considered media. Ispo facto, media is not dead.
* We crave the voices of leaders.From Walter Cronkite and Hunter S. Thompson to the more recognizable voices of the outdoor world, citizen-consumers love to hear what people with a point of view have to say. At the moment, those leaders are refining their voices within the new rules of media engagement. Take the hyper out of your diaper and give them some time. They’ll be back.
* We are all capitalists at heart. As much as you think you’re a groovy, nerd-geek chic hipster with three Twitter feeds and a couple fixies in your garage, and the end of the day you are going to look at yourself in your deliberately skewed mirror and admit that figuring out a way to make money is in your DNA. That's what your parents did, that’s what Americans do and that's what makes us different. And it's what most pros are doing with their conversations on Twitter and Facebook right now. Trust me, when somebody finds that leprechaun at the end of the rainbow, the secret won't last long and the resulting emergence of structure in the previously unstructured social media landscape will be faster than a house falling on the Wicked Witch. Media will be back. Hard and fast. Of course, if the money doesn't get found in this big Twitter-treasure hunt, you can bet that things are going to dry up fairly quickly over in social media land.
* The current leaders of social media only talk about how much they know about social media. Ironically, the most money to be made in social media appears to be from being an expert in social media. Did I mention that we’re living in a bubble bubble?
* Public relations professionals who think it’s only about media relations should never have gotten into PR in the first place. I spoke with a prospective client the other day who was simply speechless to hear that paper press kits were a no go. The fact that her current PR firm is – yes, in 2009 – spending hundreds of billable hours per year designing, printing, stuffing and mailing paper press kits is all the proof you need that old school public relations firms are off the back. The efforts of their PR pied pipers to replace the old PR management structure with a bright-shiny-new management structure is nothing more than a shell game. Same shit, different piles.