The first “press release” was put out in 1906 by the Pennsylvania Railroad to quell the spread of rumors after a train tragedy on an Atlantic City bridge. The rest, as they say, is history.
Yet while the idea of proactive content distribution has been a favored tactic of PR pros since then, the world has changed around it. Ironically, in this hyper-connected environment of smartphones and social media, we are experiencing the resurgence of "traditional" media.
No longer confined to the exclusive use of print, publishers have shifted to hybrid and all-digital models in order to survive, compete and grow. And along the way, a few have risen to the top.
Part of new media's success in the consumer eye is the redefinition of "professional media" itself. It's of little surprise that today's consumer far prefers to get their news from a Squarespace blog done professionally rather than a national news program done poorly.
A second reason for the increasing allegiance to new media sources is the returning acceptance of traditional ad-editorial blends. Consumers don't mind seeing an ad on the page anymore, as social media has evolved to become an ad-delivery device of it’s own (ie, “if you’re not paying for it, you’re not the consumer … you’re the product").
To keep the consumers attention, the competitive nature of new media creatives has driven them to be at the top of their game, every minute of the day. The new media are expected to be experts in everything, quicker than a hyperlink, and more entertaining than videos of Diet Coke and Mentos.
In the blink of a generation’s eye, media have gone from non-repo blue pens and paste-up boards to digital pagination and a flood of emails and twitter pitches lighting up their screens (nearby, of course, their phone rarely rings at all). The new media has watched the Internet rise, fall, and rise again around them. They’ve heard the proclamations that media is “dead.” And yet despite it all ... their trusted voices continue to rise in importance.
Since our founding in 2001, Pale Morning Media campaigns have included a healthy portion of media relations. While it's within the natural life cycle of clients to come and go, working media are our "forever clients" and receive of a huge measure of our daily attention -- as they should.
Because of their needs and by their reactions, the media define our tactics.
The role of public relations is not to blindly create and distribute antiquated press releases. Instead, it's to consider the message and the audience, and to develop the best possible tools to make the job of the media easier.