I’ve heard countless complaints from journalists about public relations people throughout my career – sloppy writing, don’t understand what the journalist is interested in, annoying calls asking if the journalist received a press release. All of these and more are often true. But just as often professional public relations practitioners have been of great assistance to journalists, suggesting valuable story ideas, doing much of the research, providing sources…and much more. We were called flacks, a derisive term indicating that we were subservient and not the intellectual equal. In short, many journalists didn’t want to have anything to do with us unless it was absolutely necessary.
Well, here’s the irony. If my prediction for 2013 and beyond holds out, I believe the PR industry will be one of the largest employers of journalists on the planet. Why? Because content creation is becoming ever more important as public relations becomes the storyteller through social media. Twitter, Facebook, blogs, CRM, white papers, infographics, yes – even press releases (although their purpose and format have dramatically changed), are all part of the content marketing landscape. And who best to create all this content? Why, journalists, of course. They are trained storytellers, with the ability to grasp a wide variety of subjects quickly and write in almost any style required.
Social media conversation must be credible, engaging, fresh and relevant. Journalists are a natural. While journalists have “gone to the dark side” before, it was never in a uniform, consistent way; a job here, a job there. What I anticipate is that starting this year, public relations will be actively looking to hire journalists and in large numbers. Further, I believe they will become part of account teams with clearly defined roles and responsibilities. It’s inevitable.