To judge by the amount of interest PR people have in social media and new communications technologies, you'd think that these forms of mass communication had completely overtaken traditional media as the dominant way that most people get their news, information and entertainment.
It just isn't so.
Yes, online media is growing very fast and traditional media is taking a big hit. Yes, some of the traditional forms of media -- most notably that dinosaur know as the Big Metropolitan Daily -- are on the endangered list and haven't yet figured out how to stop the bleeding and adjust to the new realities of online communication.
But at the same time, social media remains very much in its infancy. Even more importantly, the lack of barriers to entry for the creation of new forms of social media means that there are literally millions of sources of information on the Internet. So even the "biggest" ones (other than the web sites of the traditional media) have a fraction of the audience of big media and certainly far less of the advertising revenues.
What's a PR practitioner to do in these times? The only logical answer is to continue doing media relations with the traditional media, while learning to work with social media and figuring out the best mix for each client or set of circumstances.
I certainly recommend that any and every PR professional who wants to remain relevant in the business should get up to speed on social media relations, as quickly as possible. To learn about social media relations, you can take advantage of conferences, online groups, white papers and blogs. There's even a site called the New PR Wiki.
But before you dive completely into social media relations, I've got one more must read for you: an article from The New Yorker by Nicholas Lemann, Dean of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, on the balance between old media and new. It will give you the long view on the changes now happening in the media and how it impacts your media relations efforts.