When our executive editor-in-residence Vivian Schiller visited Seattle last month for the Seattle Interactive Conference to discuss the current media landscape with local PR and business professionals and she had a very clear message: the pace of change within the media will never be this slow again.

And she would know. She’s the former CEO of NPR and Chief Digital Officer of NBC News.

How Come?

Vivian assertively opened her keynote with the notion that “there is no new normal.”

Traditional media outlets continue to struggle to keep up with technology and the changing ways their audiences consume content. Nowadays editors are required to think beyond the printed page and consider how a headline is viewed in a Facebook feed, its placement in online news aggregates or what their lead image conveys via Snapchat. No easy feat.

This shift has pushed leading brands to tell their story in new ways. An effective media relations strategy no longer starts and stops with secured coverage. Today, these tactics are table stakes. Content source is no longer the anchor to brand stories; knowing the right story on the right platform is vital to visibility and building a brand coalition. This phenomenon is known as New Media.

The Fundamentals of New Media

  • Social Networks are News Platforms Whether they Like it or Not: With the introduction of features like Facebook Instant Articles, LinkedIn Pulse and the growth of Medium, social platforms are designing the user experience to be a one-stop information experience. In fact, 62% of U.S. adults cite social media as their top news source (Pew, 2016).
  • Content isn’t King; Distribution is King: A compelling lead or breaking story in a publication isn’t enough. Social media algorithms and story visibility in-feed seals the fate for a brand story, with some traditional publishers reporting shifts in the Facebook algorithm having a 74% difference in site traffic (Chartbeat). Power has shifted from traditional publishers to social platforms.
  • Buh-bye Mobile First, Hello Mobile Native: Speaking of table stakes, we all know that mobile optimization of content is crucial. But this age of Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest require that brands develop unique approaches for each social platform. Thinking about distribution as a rinse and repeat of one message in the same format doesn’t cut it anymore.

With great change comes great opportunity. Vivian’s advice for PR folks who make it their business to navigate this New Media world: total immersion in these new technologies and platforms, focus on authentic experiences and never to forget your audience.


Weber Shandwick Seattle takes an integrated approach to communications. We engage, always. We spark conversations, keep them going and turn ideas into global movements.

Go top