Meandering through ProfNet , I came across this curious posting by a reporter for a big city newspaper: “Sports Teams Control Their Spin.”
“College and pro sports teams are trying to control the spin around their product via the Internet (exclusive, subscription-based sites, blogs) and other sources, and are cutting back on the access doled out to traditional media (commercial TV, radio, print). What’s the future hold for this trend? Upsides and downsides? Do fans have a ‘right to know’ about their favorite college or pro teams? Will there be backlash? Are fans upset about having to pay for slanted ‘coverage’ of their teams? What about league-run sources such as MLB.com and NFL Network?”
Am I missing something here? Aren’t these social media sites supposed to foster dialogue with like-minded audiences? Or is it their true intention to cut out the filter of a crusty sports reporter? In either case, I was surprised to see a reporter grouse about how these tools are replacing traditional media relations to in effect “spin” their users’ message track.
PR Week’s Hamilton Nolan queried a range of media relations people on how media relations is evolving. Verizon’s Eric Rabe said:
“In today’s environment… every day you have to get up and reinvent how you reach people.”
Eric Kraus of APCO admitted that:
“A lot of these properties online have blurred the line between editorial and advertorial. At a lot of responsible publications, there’s clarity as to what’s paid for and what’s not… [but] at a lot more online properties, ads or paid material can be a lot more substantive and look a lot like news articles.”
Wal-Mart’s Mona Williams:
“As our company grew, and as expectations of others grew, we realized that we needed to tell our story or others would tell it for us. We’ve worked hard to identify different blogging segments,” including conservatives, environmentalists, and labor and consumer advocates.”
Do blogging and blog relations open doors to dialogue, or can communications pros truly “manage” these often unwieldy disciplines to better advocate (channel) their clients’ points-of-view? What happened to the goal of real transparency for enterprise communicators?
Personally, I’m not convinced that the blogging or courting bloggers will ever displace traditional media relations. Still, PR pros will have to learn to distinguish between the exploding choices in communications tactics to determine which ones best suit the business objective at hand.
Even Steve Rubel notes that MSM relations is here for the long haul:
“I don’t think it means that traditional PR is going away. I just think that there’s a whole new set of skills and learning that needs to be applied here.”
So there you have it. Hamilton’s piece in PR Week is worth a visit.