ComPRehension

Professional development and training blog of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA)
November 9, 2009

Analog vs. Digital: Traditional Media Fights to Remain Relevant


The pace of change is accelerating … you’d have to live under a rock not to notice that this theme is repeatedly resonating in the sessions at the PRSA International Conference. What was interesting about this session analyzing analog versus digital media and moderated by Henry P. Feintuch, president of Feintuch Communications, and Susan Dingenthal, new media consultant for Sandusky Radio, was the varying experiences of the participants who attended.

After a discussion of the timeline of the decline of newspapers and their valiant effort to fight back with blogs and online content, Henry Feintuch categorized the print media’s response as, “they are fumbling, experimenting.”

Far more interesting were the implications of this demise to public relations professionals. Feintuch shared a few, including  the shrinking news hole; fewer reporters doing more work and servicing more outlets, like blogs; and changing deadlines into a 24/7 structure. 

Session participants volunteered that the lack of expertise by reporters is making practitioners’ roles more difficult. Many participants questioned whether newspapers were doing blogs and online content well. One participant raised the question: “Will clients have to become their own news organizations?” This highlighted the trend toward syndicating one’s own content and the importance of online news rooms.

When discussing the changes in the radio format, Susan Digenthal recalled the halcyon days of radio with the comment: “What made it so popular was its localism. All of the local flavor has gone away … the same format is being voice-tracked into San Antonio, in Cincinnati and in Spokane.”

For a radio station to be successful, they have to leverage their assets into the digital arena. Many radio stations are doing that with new opportunities in “personal casting” and new research technology. Additionally, HD has offered new opportunities in programming and measurement.

While most public relations practitioners have recognized the demise of the newspaper industry, rapid changes in technology have given radio and television some new opportunities for public relations practitioners. What part of this new technology will you leverage?

For coverage of the PRSA 2009 International Conference: Delivering Value, visit our Conference blog or follow the conversation on Twitter at hashtag #prsa09.

For coverage of the PRSA 2009 International Conference: Delivering Value, visit our Conference blog or follow the conversation on Twitter at hashtag #prsa09.