- The Pew Research Center indicates that confidence in traditional media has decreased every year during the past 10 years.
- Fully 46 percent of the U.S. public gets their news online at least once a week while a third (32 percent) seeks out online news every day.
- 25 million people record and watch major evening newscasts, but only 8 percent of the 315 million U.S. population tunes in.
- About 93 percent of the U.S. population claims that they listen to radio at some point during the day.
- Nielsen estimates that there are nearly 180 million blogs in the world.
- Blogger software service WordPress says that it adds another 100,000 daily.
- And PR professionals now outnumber journalists 4:1.
These are some of the sobering statistics in the article “Sourcing Information: the Impact of ‘Pageview Journalism’” in Public Relations Tactics (March 2013, Public Relations Society of America).
What does all that mean?
I think it means both challenges and opportunities.
- It is certainly harder and harder for PR professionals to reach journalists.
- It is harder for professional journalists to reach their intended audiences.
- Media and sources of information are more and more fragmented.
- Credibility is definitely threatened.
- Traditional (mainstream) media is shrinking.
- Gullibility is both rampant (witness all the online scams) and extinct (witness the lack of confidence in traditional media).
- The opportunities for inaccurate information to go viral increase each day.
- The need for analysis will increase.
- Organizations have more ways to reach their “publics” directly.
- PR professionals can definitely take up the slack in terms of research and preparation of good stories, visuals and the like.
- Traditional media needs the help of PR professionals, probably more than ever before.
- As stated earlier, the need for analysis—for someone to put the factoids into context—will become greater and greater. Another opportunity for PR professionals to shine.
What will happen in the next few years? Probably an acceleration of the trends (e.g., fragmentation of the media, dearth of context and analysis, decrease in the number and quality of traditional media outlets) that have created our present situation. And what that will bring about, I hesitate to speculate.