Has the British PR industry grown too big for journalism?

The Independent, Monday, 1 February 2010

Senior public relations figures tell Neil Boom that their business is about so much more than briefing reporters

It’s tough for print media. Chronic declines in circulations and a loss of advertising income means titles are closing and jobs are being lost. The one thing that hasn’t dried up for print journalists is the stream of calls from public relations teams, trying to get publicity for a client’s product.


In the minds of some reporters the growth of the PR industry over the past couple of decades has been a factor in weakening the power of the press. Can under-pressure hacks, already filling in for redundant colleagues, cope with the barrage of calls and emails from ever-more PR executives flogging stories?


“To see the growth of the PR industry as a problem of ‘too many PRs chasing too few journalists’ is to see PR’s future simply in terms of traditional media relations,” says Colin Byrne, CEO of the global PR giants Weber Shandwick. “Our decision to relaunch Weber Shandwick as the ‘INLINE communications agency’ was based on several factors – the decline of traditional advertising, the growth of influence of digital and social media, and the fact that consumers and citizens are increasingly not consuming media either offline or online, but both.”


And exactly who is a journalist these days? “Who is more important – a journalist from The Sun or Radio 4, or a mum blogger?” asks Robert Phillips, the UK CEO of Edelman, the world’s largest independent PR agency. “One significant newspaper article can be supplanted by a powerful blog, which in turn can be usurped by a sudden rush of tweets. Just ask [Daily Mail columnist] Jan Moir. The PR industry itself needs to reflect not just on the changing media landscape (and the fact that social media is now mainstream media and that all media is increasingly being socialised anyway), but also on the fact that the very nature of ‘influence’ and ‘audience’ has changed fundamentally.”

Couldn’t resist adding a response so click this link to read full article and the responses:

2 Comments Add yours

  1. This is very interesting to me as both a journalist (magazines, newspapers and websites) and a successful ‘mum blogger’. In my experience some PR agencies are still struggling with the concept of digital media and still prefer offline coverage. I am bombarded daily with ’round robin’ press releases which have no relevance to anything I do… some agencies could definitely do with better targeted campaigns.

    1. talktojason says:

      Hi Liz

      Thank you for taking the time to respond to my post – greatly appreciated.

      I must confess I didn’t actually see it from a journalist’s point of view – especially from a journalist who could teach a lot of PR people a thing or two about appropriate communication channels!

      I don’t need to tell you that both public relations and journalism require the services of each other – providing of course they both work in unison. At least that way I wouldn’t find myself apologising for my profession (on a regular basis), and you wouldn’t have to waste time deleting media alerts from PR professionals who should know better; or at the very least your media proposition!

      Thank you again for taking the time to add a comment:)

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