Examining the intersection of public relations and journalism professions in the digital age

As one of the most established public relations specialised practices, media relations has undergone dramatic changes in the wake of the evolving digital technologies and increasingly sophisticated communication ecosystem. Traditional media relations (we term ‘Media Relations 1.0’) has largely relied on news releases, media kit preparation and distribution to maximise publicity opportunities. This linear model has later been replaced by advanced Internet-based media relations (‘Media Relations 2.0’) through incorporating organisational websites, online newsrooms and social media tools (e.g., blog, twitter) to capture media attention. Until recent years there has emerged an innovative third-party platform as a new ‘digital mediator’, which leverages the advantages of the up-to-date technologies ranging from AI, big data, and machine learning to collect media intelligence and streamline media relations practices (‘Media Relations 3.0’).

A core idea underpinning this new ‘digital mediator’ is to function like a shared resource platform to match the needs of journalists about story leads with the provision of relevant and quality sources from PR practitioners. This new type of digital platform (e.g., Editorial Intelligence in UK, HARO in US, Public Address in Australia) enables: 1) PR practitioners creating multi-media materials; 2) the multi-media releases pitched to target journalists based on databases; and 3) PR using machine learning algorithms to follow with prioritised leads based on the gauged interests from journalists. Undoubtedly, this new ‘digital mediator’ has reinvented conventional media relations, as well as reconfigured the relationship between PR and journalism professions. Against this backdrop, this project aims to investigate the following questions:

  • In what ways can PR profession provide a net benefit to media by using digital channels?
  • What channels would journalists prefer to be communicated? What are their perceptions, (dis)trust and scepticisms regarding digital media relations?
  • What is the most effective structure for public relations professionals to provide information to the media? What is the most effective way to pitch to journalists?
  • How can public relations professionals reduce the friction in the journalist-PR relationship to improve outcomes for all parties and the public using digital platforms?

DMRC research program

This project contributes to the research within the following DMRC research program:

Digital Publics

Project team


  • Dr Jenny Hou
  • Suwichit(Sean) Chaidaroon, University of Technology Sydney
  • Shane Allison, Public Address

Project funding

  • NSW Department of Industry, University of Technology Sydney, Public Address (2019-2020)