worldprreport2015628x306Last week PR Newser wrote an interesting article on the value of media relations. Patrick Coffee had insightful commentary on the Holmes Report’s 2015 World PR Report, where he “respectfully disagreed” with the report’s claim that “media relations skills are not seen as particularly relevant.”

We’re going to have to jump on Patrick’s boat here and ask, “Huh?”

Patrick features one chart from the report that outlines the skills that will be most important for PR executives in the next decade. In the graph, Social Media Community Management is at the top of the list with 39.7% of research respondents identifying it as important. From there it reads: Digital Build and Production, Multimedia Content Creation, Insight and Planning, and Creativity - all before Media Relations, listed at 15.1%.

Now we’ve all heard that journalism is dying and brand content is taking over and blah, blah, blah but at the end of the day the same principles apply to PR that have always applied – third party credibility and endorsement is crucial and that third party being a media outlet still matters and will continue to matter. Brand journalism and content creation falls closer to advertising than PR and while we agree it’s very important in this day and age, it certainly doesn’t oust media relations altogether. Sure, budgets are smaller, print is moving to digital-only and some high profile journalist moves out of the industry have made headlines. But we’re also keenly aware that media relations programs continue to be one of the top requested campaigns by brands when they’re seeking a PR agency.

It’s bad enough that the PR industry already suffers from a tainted reputation when it comes to media relations skills. Now we’re going to tell PR executives that these skills aren’t that important? Yikes. Journalists have complained for decades that there aren’t enough good media experts in PR who can write or sell a quality story, understand the journalist and get the pitches right. We fear for what is going to happen if the industry buys into this report.

So Patrick we agree – media relations skills will continue to be important. Journalists still matter. Understanding them and what they need is crucial. Purporting otherwise is going to keep the Bad Pitch Blog very busy.

In addition, we’re mildly encouraged to see that Measurement and Analytics was listed in the same chart as important by 31% of the research study respondents. However, we believe that this number is also too low – brands are spending more money on PR and Marketing and with the proliferation of available data, their standards and expectations for measurement and analysis are increasing. Gone are the days of the status report – PR executives must go beyond reporting on what they did, and begin reporting on the impact of their efforts. We ranted about this a few blogs ago.

The bottom line for us, as a PR analytics company, is that all of the skills listed are important but the ones that provide business impact are the most crucial. Content is great. Creativity is nice. Managing a social media community is cool. But none of it matters if it doesn’t positively impact the business – so in our view, measurement and analysis should be on 99.9% of the respondents’ radars, not 30%. If they don’t track what’s working and what isn’t, then how do they know which skills are most important for success?

The industry is changing, indeed. What do you think – are good media relations skills phasing out as a key talent in PR? Are you seeing more analysis in PR measurement? We’d love to hear your insights.

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