Guest Post: Specialisation the key in a changing PR landscape

The online, mobile and social media revolution is dramatically shifting the media and PR landscape in Australia and the rest of the world. Recent cut backs, staff losses and the realignment from print to online pay walls demonstrates this. Combine this with a worldwide hunger for personalised, on-demand content and PR starts to look like a pretty tough place to be.

To respond to this demand the media is becoming more fragmented and we are starting to see more niche and specialist publications doing well. Local publishing house Private Media Pty which publishes Business Spectator and Crikey is a case in point. Similarly Delimiter has been providing Australia with an independent voice about the local technology community since 2010.

There is a saying in business ‘get big, get niche or get out’ and we can see this playing out in the changing media landscape. To survive as PR practitioners, we don’t just need to take note of this trend, but to reflect it in how we operate and the services we deliver.

The days of the generalist agency are numbered and we are going to start to see more agencies specialising in niche areas like finance, fashion or technology. This is a trend we are already seeing in Australia with some of the fastest growing PR agencies (PR Report 2012) specialising in specific sectors; Purple Communications (mining), The Cru Media (luxury lifestyle) and Viva Communications (health and wellbeing).

With the immediacy of today’s news agenda the risk of spreading yourself too thinly across many sectors will inevitably increase. There is no time to wait for an account manager to ‘get up to speed’. Organisations want PR companies that can hit the ground running, that have the contacts and that understand the news agenda of the specific news outlets they want to be in.

However, specialisation will not mean knowing more about less. The changing media landscape will require PR professionals to not only have a deeper knowledge of certain sectors and topics, but also be able to apply this knowledge to a wider number of channels. We need to understand integrated media and present our content across various channels, through video, social media, infographics, sound grabs, blog posts and optimise our media releases for search engines.

A lot of this is common sense. We all know that the first step to being a good PR professional is to know your market. The problem is that the market is no longer contained in a daily, weekly or monthly publication. It is on phones, tablets and portable devices and being accessed via feeds, blogs and aggregated sites like All Top.

PR professionals who understand the industry in which their clients operate, the various channels open to them and how they work, read everything in their chosen sector, appreciate the pressure journalists are under to produce more with less and continue to nurture their relationships will continue to do well.

The PR agencies that don’t limit the sectors they service, that don’t reflect the changing media landscape and refuse to embrace the digital age, will be left behind.

About Jocelyn Hunter, MPRIA
Jocelyn Hunter is the managing director and owner of BENCH PR. Jocelyn has over 15 years PR experience having worked for some of the most awarded agencies in the UK and Australia and led a number of multi-national campaigns.

Jocelyn established BENCH PR which specialises in developing and delivering PR programs for technology and online businesses in August 2008 with a head office in Melbourne.

The PR Report recently listed BENCH PR as the 7th fastest growing PR agency in Australia. Jocelyn was also listed no. 7 in Start Up Smart’s top 10 list of 10 female entrepreneurs breaking down the tech boy’s club (April 2012).

Written by Jocelyn Hunter - Managing Director of BENCH PR www.benchpr.com.au

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