In this digital media age, constant adjustments have had to be made by journalists and PR pros alike—adjustments that at times blur the line between both camps, according to Mark Hamrick, business reporter and online video producer for the Associated Press.
In the following Q&A, Hamrick, who will give the "Wake-Up Call: Identity Crisis (& Opportunities) for Media & PR Pros” opening keynote at PR News’ Nov. 30 Media Relations Conference in Washington, D.C., discusses the effects of digital advancements on the dynamic between journalists and PR pros.
PR News: How has the digital media era changed the interaction between journalists and PR pros?
Mark Hamrick: I think it has allowed us all to monitor each side in real time in a way that we didn't before. I'd quickly add that I don't think pitching via social technology is a good way to go; I prefer e-mail or the phone. Just as journalists have another distribution channel to send their content, that's also true for communications professionals, so we have that in common.
PR News: What has surprised you most about the emergence of social media’s role in media relations?
Hamrick: One thing that surprises me is that PR professionals don't utilize it more than they do, in general. Given the amount of enthusiasm that individuals seem to exhibit for Facebook, for example, I might have thought that it would have been used more than it is for media outreach.
PR News: Do you feel PR practitioners have kept pace with the changing content demands of journalists?
Hamrick: Probably not, but then it has been a challenge for journalism to keep up with the pace of change as well. The idea about technology of all kinds is that it should help to make us more efficient, but I don't have the sense that there's been a wholesale change in the effectiveness of outreach. I'd urge everyone to think about coverage needs. For video and television, that means thinking visually. For radio, it can be a bit more straightforward and issue-based.
PR News: In what ways have the roles of journalists and PR pros overlapped?
Hamrick: A couple of things come to mind regarding what we have in common. We all have to keep pace with the compressed news cycle, including the risk that an issue or story can gain traction in a shockingly fast time. We're also all at risk that users can drive traffic in a way that wasn't possible before the emergence of social technology. For a variety of reasons there are times when we are trying to leverage that and, at other times, trying to interrupt it.
PR News: What’s a key idea/thought you want to leave Media Relations Conference attendees with?
Hamrick: One thing is how to better anticipate the news cycle, which is something we're always having to manage. Understanding that communications professionals have their own concerns, I think some might want to think a bit more about how to anticipate opportunity there, in a way that helps all of us.
To learn more from journalists like Mark Hamrick, register to attend PR News’ Nov. 30 Media Relations Conference in Washington, D.C.
Follow Mark Hamrick on Twitter @Hamricksms; Jamar Hudson: @jamarhudson