Yesterday, I attended a reception sponsored by the Chicago Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America. The venue was one few Chicagoans have experienced, at least in recent years: The 28th floor terrace at the Chicago Tribune Tower on North Michigan Avenue. (From a geographic perspective, it’s a stone’s throw from where Oprah Winfrey held her “street festival” to kick off her 24th season.)
The views from behind the Gothic arches were spectacular; but the public relations practitioners on hand got more than a bird’s eye perspective of the Magnificent Mile, some nice wine and coconut shrimp. They got to hear from the publisher and editor of the Chicago Tribune how the company has reinvented itself from being a major newspaper that owned broadcast outlets, to a media company poised to be successful in a very changing media environment.
We heard about how advertisers were now offered packages for print, broadcast and online, rather than being offered these as separate media buys. We learned about http://www.chicagonow.com, a Trib sponsored “blog for locals.” We learned about the new breed of journalist, one skilled in online and video communications, rather than just news gathering.
But the most poignant note was how the Tribune, which once billed itself as “The World’s Greatest Newspaper,” recognized that it had to change. The world is a lot different, and the company had to do things differently to survive and eventually thrive. The changes had to come from the men and women in the corporate suite to the maintenance crew.
A newspaper is a relatively modern invention. Online communications is even newer. Public relations, a modern discipline itself, should take note: We provide strategic guidance and counsel, but we must recognize that tried and true tactics will not always prove successful in reaching client goals.
Public relations must take a leadership role in shaping the way business communicates.