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May 03, 2012


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Chris Carroll

Great points made. Being in the content creation space and working with a lot of companies you can see how it's still not second nature to use the tools we all have access to when trying to connect with the public.

David Meerman Scott

Chris - exactly. Content creation is not second nature to PR pros who are expert in getting the media to pay attention. However, many PR folks have successfully made the transition.

Jen McGahan

Spot on, David. I'd go even further: Interesting, isn't it, that these days the "media" scoops the best stories and news from the Internet. And the "public" they try to reach is no longer one group. We are infinitely varied, even down to the sources we individually consider important. The mainstream media is very quickly becoming irrelevant among influencers and consumers.

David Meerman Scott

Jen - precisely. In fact, my book Newsjacking is about just that. Yes, the whole landscape is changing. We're in the middle of a revolution and it is so darned exciting!

Andrew Healey

Great points, David. If you have a good social network there is so much you can do without relying on the media.


David, what you say is correct, but how do you explain the exponential success of services like HARO? Aside from book authors and bloggers looking for help, it's still reflective of a mad PR dash for ink in major media with odds akin to the Mega lottery.

Marty Levine

I've experienced the uneasy alliance between a company's PR team and the reporters they target on both sides of the equation (first as a reporter and later in charge of PR for several tech startups). Your points are dead on about the changing landscape that should result in PR teams reaching a target audience at least in part directly through social media and other online conduits -- including many online "news" outlets that post news releases verbatim. But to your point about the designation and implicit definition of a PR department needs to go a step farther. These are marketing communications teams and they need to view their roles within that context: communicating the positioning and brand identity of the organization however and wherever possible. The old silos that held media relations, public relations and corporate communications, depending on the mindset of the organization need to go in favor of a much more flexible approach to propagating an organization's messaging.

Mark A. Kellner

As the silos are smashed, David, what happens to trust? Ostensibly, some still rely on MSM b/c said media have built up some level of integrity so readers can have confidence in what they read. Yes, many bloggers do this too, but there's plenty of fake "news" and "blog" sites around to mislead. Is there no longer ANY role for authentic, moderated, even "curated" media -- you know, newspapers and magazines with grown-ups running them?

David Meerman Scott

Marty - thanks for pushing this discussion a bit further.

Joeidon - HARO is for when Journalists are looking. They also use Google when they are looking. That's what my book "Newsjacking" is about - how to reach reporters at the precise moment they need what you know. However traditional PR relies on pushing the agenda of the company more than it does looking for what reporters need.

Joeidon and Mark -- Look, I'm not saying that MSM is going away as a way for companies to reach the public nor that information consumers will no longer read newspapers & magazines or watch TV and listen to radio. I've never said those things and I never will.

There is still room for media relations on the part of companies (which I said in my post) and there is no doubt that people still turn to the media. I myself read a daily newspaper (the Boston Globe when at home and the local paper on the road), a weekly newsmagazine (The Week), several other magazines (Rolling Stone, Surfer, Air & Space and a few others) and heck, I'm the biggest advocate there is for the creation of online information. I've never once said it is an "either / or" proposition. Rather it is "both/and" but my point is that many traditional PR teams only care about MSM.

Thanks for jumping in. Good stuff.


Good title, but wrong story. Media relations is only part of PR, just like social media now is only part of PR.

PR is about getting the company and its audiences aligned. Check eg Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_relations



much of what you say it spot on - PR is more than media relations & PR professionals need to recognise this sea change

However, while media relations is valuable, the content can be delivered not only through traditional media but also social media: blogs, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook

Video & audio can be delivered through traditional media channels

It is all mashed up

The best PR professionals manage all these channels to maximise the content


Jessie Jing

Hi David,

Just would like to thank you for this post. As a PR fledgling/trainee, it is easy for me to be fixated on the traditional ways of PR and blur the lines between media relations and public relations.

This post has really made a clear definition for me, and I am very glad that I came across this in my early stages!

Personally, I have been freelancing (/work experience) and have been focusing on independent, start-up companies as a learning curve instead of applying for an internship in a PR agency, therefore I have maintained online platforms such as blogging, online magazines and even Youtube as an essential platform of communication.

I was really worried that I was going the wrong direction as, due to not having any associations yet with mainstream media, I have not been fully successful in getting the press releases published.

Nonetheless, I am now following you on Twitter and subscribed to your blog - I look forward to reading more of your articles and tips! Thank you!

Kind Regards,
Jessie Jing.

Tom Tucker

Hey Jessie, you post that you are having a hard time getting your "press releases published".

That indicates to me you need to experience a paradigm shift in your understanding of press releases and how they should be designed to work.

With MSM, most credible outlets will not "publish" your press release. The goal of your press release should be to get the attention of "the media" (MSM and new and social) and have them create a story around your release.

Good luck to you.

Tom Tucker

By the way, I am a reporter and anchor who has worked for MSM network news affiliates for 20 years, and I totally enjoy the work and books done by you, David Meerman Scott. You are always spot on.

As you write, PR people need to stop thinking like PR people have traditionally thought over the years, and start thinking like content creators themselves, they need to put on a reporter's hat, find the stories inside their client organizations, and use the tools of new media to create, publish and distribute those stories to their targeted audiences.

You can bypass us in the MSM if you can't get our attention to cover what you want us to cover.

All organizations and companies need to become their own media outlets.

By the way, if someone needs help doing that, just let me know.

David Meerman Scott

Tom, thanks for jumping in to help Jesse.

Jesse, I'd also add that most people you will meet along the way who are long time PR pros will steer you in the wrong direction because they do not understand the new world very well. Rob, who commented above and Tom do understand. So I'd advise caution when you seek to learn from others on the job.


Thanks for this post. The same question was just asked within our company one week ago. David, could you have another posts to talk about the difference between PR vs. Marketing Communication or PR vs. Advertisement? For example, to create a video for social media exposure for your company shall be seen as advertisement function? PR function? or Marcom function? Thanks!

David Meerman Scott


This is one of my most popular posts ever and explains just that.


Mike Crisp

While I agree with the premise of this article, I worry when I see things like that. I worry that many young practitioners or students who read things like this may think that media relations is dying or is a skill they do not need to focus on.

Media relations is still a core skill needed by PR practitioners. While our jobs have grown more complex with the introduction of social media, they have not grown to the point where we can ignore media. Editors and journalists - as writers/broadcasters/etc who focus on specific topics - are still seen as more reliable sources of information than the masses on twitter,facebook, etc, regardless of the logo that accompanies the avatar.

PR is much more than media relations, but media relations is still a core skill of PR.

David Meerman Scott

Mike - I never said media relations is dying. It is still viable as a tool to reach an audience and as a profession. All I'm saying is that we have new ways to reach the public. That's a good thing!

And by the way, there are now new ways to reach the media as I have written about in my book Newsjacking http://www.newsjacking.com/

Yolanda Lewis

Great article!

Amber Avines

I couldn't agree more. I've been on this same crusade for a looooong time. It was the case even before the days of content creation and social media.

The public and the media are not one in the same. The terms public relations and media relations are not interchangeable. And everything you do to get the word out is not PR. For people who deal with words and messaging for a living, most PR practitioners don't even use the correct term to define what they do. It's ridiculous.

Amber @wordsdonewrite

David Meerman Scott

Amber - I really love this quote: "For people who deal with words and messaging for a living, most PR practitioners don't even use the correct term to define what they do." Many thanks!

Martin Bredl

Thanks for keeping as awake.

Sam Daniel

This is good to read and I appreciate it that you shared indeed handy post.

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