Public relations and communication are at the crossroads for many practitioners, with the avalanche of social media and mobile apps beating down conventional communication channels for a slice of the pie, if not the whole pie sometimes. What should practitioners do?

Now, we can sit on the fence and hope to sit out the game until the dust settles, or we can jump head in with preparation, expertise, and a smile. What do I mean?

I was reading the magazine “Campaign” and came across an advertisement of PR Newsire promoting the “multimedia news release”, where they quoted “40% of all web traffic will be video by the end of 2010 and 90% by 2013” (source: Cisco 2009). This is a compelling quote that lends anxiety and excitement at the same time.

While the textual news release and other written communication collaterals are still relevant and important, more and more people are turning to visual content with audio, in short – video. YouTube and Vimeo must be some of the most turned-to information and entertainment sources today. We cannot turn a blind eye to the pressing need to expand communication channels to reach out to prospective audiences and to continue to engage existing users.

Yes, a textual news release will still reach a journalist, but a textual news release that comes with associated video content and other downloaded materials, coupled with analytics, will likely produce more coverage results while giving an additional means to engage new audiences.

Back in the 1990s, we were amongst the first (probably the first here in Singapore) to self-produce, in-house, multimedia press kits for high-tech clients. Those were the days of 3.5-inch floppy disks, and we were able to compress Macromedia Director files down through heavy graphics optimization, to fit into the floppies. It was lots of hard work, but tremendously rewarding as the media were impressed with interactive presentations with the news materials.

Since then, the floppy disk has become a figment of computing history, replaced by DVD and USB drives, and, the cloud. Still, the need to impress and engage the media through interactive media releases and press kits is stronger than ever before.

Today, we need to consider video interviews (or video news releases/VNRs) with annotations and click-through links to web content and social media channels, uploaded to dedicated websites, microsites, or social media channels, because even audio-only podcasts have fallen in demand and interest. We have to create original and innovative news angles and pitches to demonstrate the importance of client products and services.

As serious practitioners, we cannot afford to simply imagine the journalists would pick up any news release we send over. We respect our colleagues in the media, and know that their time is precious, their objectives are to communicate news (and not sales pitches) to their audiences and readers, with as much engagement as we possibly can imagine or create. The job of the PR practitioner is more challenging than ever before, and yet, what fun!

Lights, camera, action!