The media is dying. We’ve been hearing this for at least ten years now, so if it’s true, it’s been a long, slow demise. We are seeing journalism jobs cut, newsrooms closed and traditional media companies fold. There isn’t a single news organisation across this nation that is not affected. Reading the headlines you’d think it was time for the media industry’s last rites.

But wait. What’s this? The Neilson Company, the people behind American TV ratings, says that adults are, on average, spending 11 hours a day on electronic gadgets. Most adult humans are only awake 16 or 17 hours a day. If people are spending the majority of their waking hours online, how can it be that the media is dying? These two facts just don’t jibe.

More people are consuming more media than ever before. This is the real truth. It’s just that they are getting content from new sources via different channels now, and only those media organizations which failed to understand and to adapt to this new environment are dying.

Others, those with new approaches to publishing and innovative business models, are thriving. Buzzfeed, Huffington Post and Upworthy are a few examples. But so are SnapChat, Reddit, Instagram and tens of thousands of other niche apps and blogs and websites. It’s complicated—very. Navigating this landscape is not for the faint hearted.

Along with this increased complexity comes a correlating escalation of risk. Empowering millions of people to publish and share ideas and opinions effortlessly is revolutionary. But humans make mistakes, some are thieves, still others are full of hate. Reputational risk is palpable in a social media world; just ask Starbucks, Bic and Seaworld. Then there’s potential loss of intellectual property, productivity, privacy, regulatory compliance and even revenues and profits. Losing any one of these can potentially sink a company.

So, we, as PR professionals, have also had to adapt to succeed in this reality. Those that have stuck with the ‘it’s who you know’ approach to relationship building are struggling. The reporters and media professionals they once rubbed shoulders with are, more often than not, no longer in the job or available to pick up the phone.

Others, those who understand that PR is all about what you know, are doing well. They use hard data to understand audiences and trends. They are creative storytellers who understand the digital landscape. They know how to create meaningful connections with people, both online and off.

There is a real need for such people, those with the PR knowledge, skills and talent for the contemporary media industry.

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