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Move over Ted Turner, CNN: Promoting the RIT national media outlet in Atlanta PR musings

Media Mogul Ted Turner predicted the “imminent demise of newspapers” in 1991.

It is certainly taking longer than he originally predicted, but it’s no secret newspapers are on the decline in this digital age. At least the print version (although newspaper executives could argue they have the best “information” Web sites in any given town).

But what Ted failed to predict was the erosion of TV news as we knew it back in the 1990s. Sure, cable TV has eroded the traditional network ratings. But the proliferation of the Web and digital information has changed the game. Now Turner and his media buddies have some new competition: University Web sites with news and information. After all, universities have a commodity that the media is always looking for: knowledge.

So if you are in higher education, why not build your own national media outlet? This was the title of my recent presentation at a CASE (Council for Advancement and Support of Education) conference: Institute for Senior Communications and Marketing Professionals, ironically held in CNN’s backyard.

I was invited to speak at the CASE event in Atlanta about the RIT University News Web site, which earned national recognition this past year. At RIT, we’ve converted our “public relations” Web site (formerly a litany of links to news releases) into a “media outlet” that has the ability to provide direct news content. We use new media tools – video clips, blogging, podcasting, photo galleries, YouTube, Twitter and RSS feeds – to reach your target audience (alumni, faculty, staff, students), journalists and the world.

Certainly, as PR professionals, we still need strong connections with mainstream media. But I was pleased to hear Michael F. Adams, president of the University of Georgia, validate the concept of creating your own university media outlet when he addressed the CASE conference. President Adams, noting the decline of newspapers, said it would make more sense for the public to visit the University of Georgia Web site to learn about the current financial crisis from the university experts rather than read small snippets in USA Today.

So if you are reading this blog post, I am preaching to the choir. But spider this out to your friends and have them bookmark the University News Website with all their other news Websites. Ted Turner wanted a fragmented audience with the networks and the newspapers. Well, he got what he wanted. And we’re into his space.


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