Has Digital Media Really Changed the World of PR?

“As more broadcast and print media outlets develop an online presence, activities like pitching stories to reporters, developing and distributing press releases, and measurement and evaluation of media coverage, have been updated, optimized, or reinvented.” (Hutchins & Tindall, 2016)

Over the past decade, digital media has changed and continues to change rapidly. The way information is produced, distributed, accessed and interacted with has shifted, but with this has come a great opportunity for public relations to blossom and embrace the modern way of living.

The rise of social media means everyone has an equal opportunity to promote and share media content, regardless of status and wealth, and campaigns and causes can be promoted at the touch of a button with engaging content. Social media and, more widely, the internet has led to campaign engagement being recorded in real time, and practitioners know instantly how effective content and ads are at reaching the public. This two-way engagement allows the direction of a campaign to be changed quickly and, if needs be, crisis management to be enacted efficiently. The world has become a 24-hour society, where anyone with an internet connection can access information at any time of day and successful public relations campaigns can use this to their advantage, publishing material at various times to reach different target groups.

However, while a modernised digital media brings many positive opportunities, it can also speed up the process when things are not going well. The 24-hour society can quickly become a curse when bad news travels through social media platforms, and one poorly thought out Tweet or Facebook post can suddenly create a PR crisis. The speed at which bad news flows through the internet makes it difficult to contain and recover from. As well as this, customers can publicly discuss bad experiences for the rest of the world to see.

It is difficult not to argue that digital media has changed public relations, “for public relations the unavoidable conclusion is that nothing will ever be the same again” (Phillips and Young, 2009). As described by Cutlip, Center and Broom (2006), “public relations is the management function that establishes and maintains mutually beneficial relationships between an organization and the publics on whom its success or failure depends.” While the tools used to maintain these relationships have changed, the core concepts of public relations has remained the same, albeit with new opportunities and challenges to take into account.


Cutlip, S., Center, A., & Broom, G. (2006). Effective Public Relations, 9th Edition. San Diego State University: USA.

Hutchins, A., & Tindall, N. (2016). Public Relations and Participatory Culture. Routledge: London.

Phillips, D., & Young, P. (2009). Online Public Relations: A Practical Guide to Developing an Online Strategy in the World of Social Media (PR In Practice). Kogan Page Ltd: London.

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