Written by Katie Taylor

I recently started my agency journey at Aspectus, and I can now say I’ve ticked all three media relations boxes – journalist, in-house Press Officer and now Account Executive at an agency.

I had been told that going from an in-house role to an agency would be a steep learning curve – it would be a fast-paced environment with lots of clients vying for your time and, of course, media coverage. At one point, I was even warned against moving to an agency altogether, as it was painted as a cold environment to work in.

However, as soon as I stepped into the Aspectus office, I realised how wrong that last point was. I was greeted by warm and helpful colleagues, ready to give me lots of advice. From how to set up my computer, to the Aspectus way of running a PR campaign and most importantly: Friday drinks rituals! I also received a personal tutorial on the last 30 years of the energy sector – and not once did my eyes glaze over.

It may have been my first week but I decided I couldn’t get enough media talk, and with my new colleague Sofie, went off to Jewish Care’s Digital Media Explosion evening, which saw a panel of media experts discuss the rise of digital media.

So what did the panel think was the difference between newspapers and digital media?

Dina Rickman (Head of Social Media at the Independent) argued that the exciting thing about digital media is the constant change. “It’s about finding the best way to tell the story, in the correct medium, to get the most traffic.

“Newspaper is a product and digital is a snippet. You need to be careful not to be too quick to publish and sensationalise. This is your responsibility as a publisher,” she added.

James Rosenthal (Global Business Leader at Google/YouTube) said of Google: “We’ve become entrenched in the digital world, even though we’re not the hot new app.  The scale of the business is extraordinary. The Google offices are amazing.”  

He explained that it’s just like any other business which has targets to meet but that, “we are really fortunate that we have sushi for lunch and a gym. We do it to attract the best people to a great environment, doing great things with tech.”

Alex Kay-Jelski (Sports Editor at the Daily Mail), who has worked on the popular MailOnline from when it was, “a few people sitting in the corner of the office to bringing in millions,” talked about the downside of newspapers. He argued that they can become outdated compared to up-to-the-minute online news, but with the demand on digital journalists to produce content, he questioned, “do they have time to be proper journalists?”

So has the digital explosion resulted in journalists losing their integrity?

Alex discussed the issue of ‘clickbait’, where online media will run what people want to read, such as a story about Manchester United, rather than writing more serious stories. But there needs to be a balance.

“You need journalists to get out and get stories,” Dina said. “It would be dull if they didn’t.”

The rise of digital media

The panel explored the power of digital media, from Dina witnessing the momentum built online around releasing the picture of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi to highlighting the vital need for video to make money. James commented that there has been a shift with video from TV to online but that it is, “very difficult to create entertainment that all shifts to online.” And from Alex’s perspective, “video for the sake of video hasn’t worked.”

James responded to an audience question about the controversial Government measures to force search engines to hand over users’ search histories if required. “Google has fought it. We want to be neutral.”

And then the final question was put to them – are we so addicted to our mobile devices that it will ruin the way we live?

Dina: “People are engaging – just not necessarily with the people in front of them.”
James (asking the audience): “Who would rather have their mobile phone on them than underwear?” Most people agreed. “That’s messed up!”
Alex: “On holiday, I like to put my mobile in the safe!”

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