The rise and importance of technology in media and public relations has greatly altered traditional PR roles. In an article published by PRSA’s The Strategist in an article titled “The Changing Roles of Online Communications,” by Susan Balcom Walton, she discusses how social media has changed the landscape for PR professionals.
The first is the modification of the role of the Generator. Generators, typically write content, and think up innovative ideas, but now this role has expanded to the creation of online content as well. While they still must develop creative content, now the content must be able to be transmitted and subsequently received by others in a digital format. So, in addition to creating meaningful and relevant content to their audiences, Generators must also factor in the logistics and requirements of posting media online.
The article discusses how we have seen the role of the Aggregator rise to prominence as well. Typically, Aggregators are the publishers who deal with other people’s content. Aggregators need skills like the ability to plan for detailed online searches, because they gather all the potential information related to a certain subject. The great thing about Aggregators is that they have many tools on their side, ranging from Google Reader, NetNewsWire or subject specific search engines like Devon Agent. There are also tools for social media, like HootSuite and TweetDeck. All of these tools help Aggregators easily collect and publish data.
Naturally the position of the Aggregator has created a need for a Curator. Much like a museum curator, a content curator uses their own judgment to select from the large amounts of data and information available. Some may be experts in a certain field, but all Curators rely on their knowledge and experiences to determine what readers will find valuable.
While these three may seems like separate entities, they actually all work in tandem together seamlessly. For example, let’s say a professor has an idea and writes an academic paper on it, he is a Generator. Then a website, like academia.edu, picks up the paper and makes it available on their site. The website would be the Aggregator. Then a Curator seeks out the paper for a specific purpose and includes in their project.
While these three positions all require different sets of skills, there are still timeless skills that every PR professional needs, which include:
- Being flexible;
- Understanding your audience;
- Knowing where to find and how to access information;
- Realizing your objectives;
- Having strong writing skills; and
- Being aware of current events and trends.