Monday, February 27, 2006

Technology Takes Over

Publicists are no longer mailing out formal press releases to various media people and diligently counting the hits in each publication—we’ve established that. With the domination of technology in public relations, “message pickup” is the new goal.

Wayne Hickey of Weber Shandwick explains that blogging and podcasting are new media tools to get the message out, and RSS is a way of tracking the message. With the expansion of these technologies, it is important to know who you want to target and which tools to use. At a large corporation like Weber Shandwick, they might target print, online and broadcast press and blogs on a select basis. A small PR firm might have a better chance getting ink by pitching to a blogger rather than the New York Times. Thus each publicist will pitch their message in a different format using different tools.

Part of this technology movement expands consumer’s access to the messages. It started as simple as newspapers going online—you no longer wait for the morning paper to be delivered because you can access a story often the night before online. It is a 24/7 world of information. Press releases are posted online allowing all Internet surfers access. This may change the way a PR pro will write the news release—it’s no longer written solely for a reporter.

Consumers also have greater access because of portability. Audio and video podcasting allows the consumer to choose when they watch a video rather than when a network broadcasts it. If this proves to be a successful tool, the “message” will be picked up more. News Corporation just announced a new venture that will "insinuate itself into millions of cellphones" (www.nytimes.com/2006/02/27/technology/27mobile.html). They have jumped on the bandwagon of mobile media--consumers can purchase videos, graphics and music through their entertainment store Mobizzo. As the New York Times article points out, all media companies will have their eye on this business that New Corp is starting.

It'll be interesting to me to see how far technology will infuse media and public relations. I don't see myself paying for audio or visual broadcasts on my cellphone or my iPod--but then again I never thought I'd have a Blackberry or an iPod.

Are tech-media companies creating products to meet the needs of consumers, or are they creating something to serve a craving before the consumer has it?

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