The Times They Are A-Changin'

Bob Dylan’s famous song The Times They Are A- Changin’ could be the theme for the world we live in.   At every turn, business communicators are faced with new sets of challenges. This month’s issue of Communication World magazine noted that in a recent poll conducted by IABC Research Foundation, 50 percent of respondents said they lack sufficient staff to deliver work in an effective manner. Thirty six percent said budget cutbacks were impacting their ability to achieve department goals. Certainly, communicators are grappling with how to do more with less and get the biggest bang for the buck.

Public relations has traditionally been used as one of the most effective ways to leverage corporate communications. Utilizing the free press to get your story told to the masses has been an important strategic way to enhance brand value.  But in today’s rapidly changing media landscape, how influential will traditional media remain? At the Heritage Region Conference last month in Cleveland, the agenda was full of social media topics of every kind. As I attended Dine Around and other events, I stirred debate about the proper mix of traditional and social media strategies. An interesting discussion emerged about whether traditional media would still be the force it once was. Did it is still have influence? Was it still perceived as credible? Were communicators still finding value in utilizing print, broadcast and cable outlets to get their message out? There was a robust discussion about where it was all headed.

IABC Philadelphia’s December programming event will get into this in a big way.  With the Future of News, a panel of leading traditional and new media experts will discuss where news is headed. What will the role of the professional journalist be? What do reduced reporting staffs and shrinking media outlets mean for communicators who have been accustomed to contacting their beat reporter for a breaking story? Will reporters you’ve built relationships with start migrating online, work independently, self financed or join up with foundations to report on their industry? We expect a robust debate among the panelists will provide IABC members with fresh views of the media industry.

Just like Dylan’s title song of the same name, as communicators we need to come to terms with stark reality of our changing times. The same old ways may not do. Whether it is smaller staffs and budgets or shrinking media outlets, the smart move professionally is for communicators to adjust to the changes at hand and calibrate strategies accordingly to make sure we still reach our target audiences.

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