I recently had a conversation with a communications professional that completely surprised me. It went something like this…
Me: I’m experimenting with Pinterest at the moment.
Response: What’s Pinterest?
Me: [A little shocked … okay, what about Facebook …]
Me: Facebook could be used as our primary communication channel for students because 100 per cent of them are there, but they may not check their email.
Response: Really? I’m not on Facebook, I never really got into it.
Me: [almost falls off chair… speechless … WHAT?!]
This conversation made me realise that professional communicators are at very different stages of embracing digital media, whether it’s online, new or social media. It made me reflect on my 15 year professional journey, from traditional print journalist to ever-evolving PR strategist.
When I had my first article published in 1996 the internet had only existed for seven years (Tim Berners-Lee invented the world wide web in 1989). I used to deliver my features to the editor of Nova Magazine on a floppy disc. Did I not have email? Actually I don’t remember, but that’s how I submitted my work. In person. Face-to-face. Hand delivered.
Back then public relations was basically about writing press releases and trying to get journalists to run your story. If you got your story in the first three pages of the daily newspaper, you would probably get radio and maybe TV if you had an interesting idea for visual footage. So, that was your goal.
How things have changed!
Then: 24 hour news cycle
Now: 140 character news cycle
Then: Daily newspapers set the news agenda
Now: News breaks on twitter first
Then: Journalists held the publishing power
Now: Anyone with access to the internet can publish
Then: Social media didn’t exist
Now: If you’re not on social media, you don’t exist
My number one tip to anyone starting out in PR is to make a commitment to ongoing professional development. Keep learning. Keep changing. Keep growing. Otherwise, you really will be left behind.
What’s the one tip you would give to PR graduates starting out?