Despite all the talk of changes in the media landscape and continuing bluster about "fake" news, 2018 should present many of the same old challenges for the Public Relations practice.
Media remain media, whether traditional or "new" media. The editors and content producers still want material that will draw the attention of readers and viewers. That means that we in PR must think like editors and provide story ideas and background that's relevant. We must spend time to develop a good pitch that clearly and succinctly outlines what we are offering and why it is relevant and timely. These days, a good email subject line is crucial.
How we in PR maintain contact with editors and producers has changed from when I first got into the field. Way back, you had meetings and lunches with editors, in order to pitch your story ideas. These days, media people have little free time for lunch or even desk-side meetings. They take pitches by email and sometimes via Twitter and other social media. And since the news cycle is 24/7, journalists often respond by email during the "off" hours of the evening or weekends. Long gone is the 9-5 business day.
Relationships with key journalists are still important, but many of those relationships are now digital or by phone only. The relationships come from reliably providing story ideas and/or interview subjects.
Planning is still important, since non-breaking stories are often determined days or more in advance. Yet we must remain alert to fast-breaking things happening in the world and online, including what's going around on social media. There seems to be a lot more to try to keep track of.
What has changed most during the past two years is that the entire news cycle can be -- and often is -- totally disrupted by a presidential tweet. Despite all the planning, relationship-building and carefully crafted pitching, journalists can at the last moment be totally sidetracked onto other stories. Or the time and space that might normally be allotted for your story may disappear as seemingly every moment or column inch gets devoted to a tweet and its fallout.
That's the new reality in the news and PR business. That's not to say PR hasn't always been a challenging field whose results often rely on things beyond our control. The challenges have changed a bit.
But when it works, public relations can be powerful and cost-effective in shaping thoughts and actions.