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How content is changing the roles of journalists and PROs

28th June 2013

The fall in advertising revenues and the rise of internet publishing has been bad news for journalists. However, there is still growing need for journalism skills, thanks to the increasing demand for great content. This is good news for PROs, as they are experts at offering interesting content to the media.

Because of the growth in content marketing, the roles and functions of PR and journalism are changing and converging.

A recent report into how newsrooms are changing in the US by US-based software company Software Advice, describes how newsrooms across America have been laying off staff to the tune of 25 per cent since 2000. And according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of journalism jobs will decline by another six per cent between 2010 and 2020. Meanwhile, the number of PR specialist and manager jobs rose nearly 63 per cent between 2000 and 2010, and between 2010 and 2020, it will see another 21 per cent increase.

Job opportunities for traditional journalists may be dwindling, but many journalists are moving into PR in the US to be reborn as content marketers. To get a more accurate picture of what is happening there, a search on Craigslist shows some of the most common job titles in journalism, PR and content marketing. This search focuses on New York City, as it is one of the largest job markets in the US. The findings back up the trend towards content marketing.

The shift towards content marketing roles in America shows how PR roles are changing there and this is also true in the UK. As brands communicate directly with customers, traditional PR tactics are less appropriate. As more businesses adopt content marketing strategies, they need people who are not only skilled at media relations and writing press releases, but who also have key online skills.

Holly Regan, managing editor at Software Advice, offers this advice for PR people to thrive in today’s content-driven world:

Go directly to your audience. Journalists are no longer the primary conduit between PR people and the public. PR specialists must figure out how to appeal to given target audiences, and build social networks through which they can communicate with these audiences directly.
Grow your skill set. A PR professional should still know how to plan an event and write a pitch. But you must expand your skill set to include things such as web development, SEO, social media marketing and even graphic design in order to remain relevant.
Tell your own story. Like journalists, traditional PR specialists, says Joe Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute, are probably good storytellers: “Instead of using that expertise to gain coverage in other media outlets… [they should] use that knowledge to help build owned content strategies,” such as blogs and social profiles.
Be quick on your feet. In the internet age, PR specialists must be quicker than ever on their feet when it’s time to post news and announcements online or to respond to a crisis. MaryAlice Kaspar, Principal at Columbus Communications LLC, emphasizes the importance of gathering stories, graphics and video clips in advance so they are “post-ready.”
Don’t (necessarily) stick to your guns. Many organisations – especially those doing content marketing – no longer adhere to conventions such as press releases.
Be adaptable and open to doing outreach in atypical ways. Often, you can better capture audiences’ attention in 140 characters than through a traditional press campaign.


The information for this feature comes from Software Advice. Here is where to go for more information about these statistics and further commentary.

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