PR Peeps: Talking to Ourselves?

.I was a journalism major in college, worked as an editor at various publications, even married a “newspaper man.” To this day, my idea of a blissful Sunday morning is one that starts with coffee and  The New York Times.

Public relations was something I stumbled into and quickly grew to love.

But recent events among digital media companies have made me wonder – as the targets of our communications efforts continue to implode – if we, as publicists, will soon be talking only to ourselves.

It’s not news, of course, that traditional media have been spiraling downward for some time – the number of print publications out there now compared to when I started Child’s Play, for example, seems infinitesimal.  Digital clearly became the new way to go – and so we followed that path, creating relationships with both websites and social influencers. My husband-the-newspaper-man, finally ensnared by the multiple rounds of cuts at his old company, found a future at a digital publication.

But now digital media is beginning to buckle. In recent days alone, according to a New York Times article. “More than 1,000 employees were laid off at Buzzfeed, AOL, Yahoo and Huff Post.” Meanwhile, Vice Media started laying off 250 people just last Friday, and Gannett implemented yet another round of head-lopping – one of so many in the past decade that I have lost count.

As the Times article notes, among digital media, “The cuts at Buzzfeed were the most alarming. Wasn’t this the company supposed to have it all figured out?”

And that’s really the crux of the issue. If digital media, the great alternative to traditional media, isn’t working either — why, and what is?  Where, as marketers, can we tell our clients’ stories in the days ahead?

As a former journalist, I remain – naively perhaps – a believer in real reporting, in articles that speak factual truth. Social media too often does not do that. So while, granted, it’s too early to envision a scenario in which media as we now define it no longer exists – perhaps it’s not too early to ask, what’s next?