I had an opportunity this week of discussing some of the key issues affecting PR and communication at the moment as part of a group of senior professionals. There were lots of interesting subjects that were debated but probably the one that got me most animated was whether there is a future for the media manager role.
The question is whether with the growth and importance on social media and the decline in the newspaper business does there still need to be someone whose role is about managing the media coverage? Do we really need those skills in 2012 and beyond? Or should the communication staff be more multi-functional?
I have written many times about the interesting changes that we are seeing take place in communication at the moment. There hasn’t been such a significant change for many years, probably in more than a century. The demands on the communication staff are changing and not only because we have to do ‘more with less’ but the technology that enables us to do our job has developed really quickly.
The media manager has for years tried to deal with the enquiries and promote the organisation through the media. Predominantly they have been ex-journalists who use their skills and experience to work with the media to obtain the best outcome. They have strong skills to be able to identifying a news story and write about it. But with the dwindling role and influence of the media are these skills still in demand?
For many social media has become the way they find out about the latest news and where they may also read more details about subjects through blogs or online postings. They don’t buy newspapers they download information on their Ipad or smart phone. In a few years will we really still need to be focusing on the role of the media within communication or will the other elements have taken over?
The key for me is to employ communication people who can adapt their skills to the changing environment both today and in the future. They need to have strong writing skills and be able to identify what makes news, whether that is in the media world or the social media world. That may mean that they are ex-journalists or with skills from other aspects of communication whether that is marketing, digital journalism etc.
Media management will always be a part of the communication mix of that there can be no doubt. But it may not be a job for one person and it may be that our teams need to be much more flexible about how they deliver the support required. The way the communication is provided has to be able to adapt to the world around it. Using the skills of the media manager will remain but these people will have to look around them to be able to survive in 2012 and beyond.