The Changing Contours of PR

The way that people consume news has completely altered since the advent of social media. From being the main source of news and considered opinion, conventional media comprising of newspapers, magazines, television and radio are now referred to after the news has been consumed online in real time mostly from social media websites like Facebook and Twitter. The primacy of traditional media is therefore fading right before our eyes.

In the case of India things are a little different in that the growth of literacy accompanied by the growth of purchasing power has seen an explosive growth in vernacular print media. However in so far as the urban centres are concerned online and social media are beginning to rule the roost like elsewhere in the world. With a gargantuan telecom subscriber base of 933 million, 117 million of which are smart phone users the reach of online and social media is not to be scoffed at. Internet connectivity as a whole is available to a mammoth 300 million Indians.

However it seems that Indian PR practitioners are yet to wake up and smell the coffee in that they still deploy most of their resources in chasing journalists representing traditional media. With bottom line pressures buffeting much of the traditional media outlets, objectivity and a professional approach to news inputs is quite often not quite visible. How many traditional journalists care to attend press conferences these days? Besides even in the case of one on ones and interactions there is no guarantee that story will see the light of the day.

Rather than continue doing things the old way, PR practitioners should educate their clients about the advantages of online and social PR. Online news portal journalists and bloggers are generally not only more approachable, but in many cases better able to understand the nuances of the story and are able to render it better. Besides they always reach the right target audience. The ultimate PR vehicles in my opinion are social media with their enormous reach that can be targeted with infinite precision.

There are a whopping 112 million Facebook users in India, 33 million Twitter users, 26 million LinkedIn users, and 5.5 million people on Pinterest. The circulation and readership figures of most newspapers and magazines are almost puny in comparison. The key to leveraging these media lies not in cultivating indifferent and sometimes ignorant journalists, but in the ability to create and post relevant content on behalf of the clients.

This makes the task of the PR practitioners a lot less thankless, and they no longer have to simultaneously contend with capricious clients and journalists. Social Media PR requires the regular creation of germane content, targeted with precision at the right target audience. There are tools that let you post simultaneously and quickly on multiple sites, while others help you give the posts a boost. The results are quick to come and can be easily tracked and analyzed.

This kind of outreach is far more dynamic and lets the client interact with their target audience in real-time and in a manner that is personal and intimate. In comparison the outreach obtained by traditional media is very vague and dispersed and one has no idea how the target audience perceive the message. Online PR is truly the not so distant future.

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