About a year ago I sat in a full conference room listening to Peter Bhatia, Editor of The Oregonian, talk about the future of the news department that he led. I thought it was commendable that he was the first to admit that his newspaper would have to change with the times and rely less on the practice of daily printing.
Yesterday that change was announced. Oregon’s largest daily newspaper, The Oregonian, will only offer home delivery three times per week. It will be a daily “newspaper” online at OregonLive.com and will be available daily at newsstands, for the time being.
We have seen the writing on the wall for quite some time now. Grandparents have Facebook pages, purchases can be made with our phones, and news desks rely more on Twitter feeds than police scanners (according to NBC affiliate KGW). The scary thought is that many of our clients don’t even subscribe to The Oregonian. If that is not a sign that traditional PR needs to change, than I don’t know what is.
While we will never steer away from traditional PR as a core of what we do, we have been adding to our media relations toolbox. There will always be a need for PR in the old-fashioned sense but we must execute in different ways, through new channels and even expect new outcomes. Who’s to say that a tweet from a top reporter is not as good as a front page article?
Many of us are sad to see the paper as we know it go away. Thumbing through it can be a comforting and habitual experience — much like the morning coffee routine. Yet humans, like PR professionals and newsrooms, are adaptable.