PR News Q&A: John Deveney on the Importance of Citizen Journalists

With media relations a key specialty of New Orleans-based Deveney Communication, John Deveney, president of the agency, is keenly aware of the changing media landscape, particularly in the blogosphere. “With readership, credibility and reach that can surpass traditional outlets, leaving bloggers out of your media consideration is a missed opportunity that no one can afford,” he says. Deveney will elaborate on the power of bloggers and other key digital PR influencers at the PR News’ Media Relations Next Practices Forum on June 17 in Washington, D.C. He’ll be on the panel, “Allocate Your Media Relations Resources for Smarter Returns.”

PR News: How does your agency deal with bloggers?

John Deveney: Many PR pros compartmentalize bloggers into a different category than traditional media. Bloggers are a unique breed, many of whom neither think like or want to be treated as "journalists." We design and execute specific blogger programs to capitalize on what they can uniquely deliver. For our travel and tourism clients, familiarization tours of New Orleans created specifically for leading bloggers is an example where this targeted approach has paid significant and lasting dividends.

PR News: What is your agency’s strategy on press releases?

Deveney: Video, images and graphics lend themselves to more viral distribution and are great with social media efforts, but a “traditional” release can be optimized to carry greater content. The true sweet spot is making sure you are leveraging both social and traditional in a concerted strategy to get the best impact. Though traditional releases are still legitimate tools, we use them more as a document, which the client can review and approve specific language—then we optimize for multi-faceted outreach.

PR News: What important media relations trends do you foresee in the near future?

Deveney: The continued expansion and dominance of “citizen journalists” and consumer-generated content are going to be enormous factors. Something to watch closely will be not just the tactics that promote this, but the fundamental social implications and impact these journalists have on credibility, and how business and organizations can manage this developing reality.

PR News: Within the media relations function, what keeps you awake at night?

Deveney: The challenge of making sure our profession remains relevant in the new reality of media relations keeps me up at night. Our profession is leading the response to the challenges and opportunities created by the rapid growth of influence of social media, and we are adapting to the impact of the recent, massive layoffs, closures and budget cuts in media. But these are just early elements of greater change—tactical parts of a much more significant cultural shift. Society is changing and society needs our profession to help manage these changes.

Attend PR News’ Media Relations Next Practices Forum on June 17 and learn more from experts like John Deveney.