In the January issue of Tactics, published by the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), Sandra Fathi offered a number of predictions that she feels will challenge and inspire the profession and the public this year.
As part of Fathi’s crystal ball, she claimed that the respected journalist will return. According to the founder and president of the New York public relations and social media firm Affect, “the rise of blogging and social media has increased the volume of online news and the speed at which it’s available, often at the expense of quality reporting.”
Fathi is correct about the loss of quality reporting but possibly not about the return of respected journalists. She indicated that the citizen journalist’s 15 minutes of fame is running out and that information-overloaded consumers will demand a higher standard of reporting. But, unfortunately, the news content generated by the professionals, along with that of citizen journalists, no longer is trusted by huge components of the population.
More people today feel that they can write and post when actually they do not have the capability to place a logical or accurate thought on paper (or online). Rather than reporting important information, many citizen journalists incorporate opinions, misinterpretations and outright misstatements of facts without citing sources or providing support documentation in their material. At the same time, many of the professional journalists (Andrea Mitchell and Candy Crowley to name just two) have been criticized for abandoning objectivity. Others in the mainstream media, such as Matt Lauer, are outright disrespectful when they don’t agree with a newsmaker’s point of view.
Photos Over Words
Fathi also focused on the growing impact of pictures, indicating that “the picture is the story.” Photo sharing and other visual storytelling, she said, will force public relations professionals to deploy visual messages to compete in a crowded content market to reach the consumers of ideas and products/services.
Other predictions by Fathi:
- LinkedIn will become the new Facebook. She wrote that more brands will leverage LinkedIn to monitor conversations and connect with customers and those seen as having influence.
- Social media will see an increase in political messaging and it will become a news source for citizens, media and the government.
The bottom line from this past-president of the New York Chapter of PRSA is that 2013 will be a year of significant change for the public relations profession and that social media will continue to increase its impact on society.