"So, do you think we can dance?" Best practices for media relations in a shifting world.

Susan Emigh, director of public relations, Faculty of Health Sciences, McMaster University
Media relations is an evolving swirl and a continuous conversation for Canadian public relations practitioners. Traditional media have maintained most of their viewers and much of their influence in public policy issues but, with the widening range of digital media, there are more demands for tailored information and responsiveness.

This study involved a November 2012 national survey of 1,500 Canadians on media use and credibility of a range of media which echoed a similar study five years before, along with in-depth interviews with 18 key influencers in politics, journalism and public relations.

The study found that although established media may no longer be the sole gatekeepers of the agenda setting by governments, the traditional media still holds the credibility, albeit weakened, to maintain authority on the issues of the day. However, digital media, including owned media created by public relations practitioners, are gaining credibility as they gain audience.

Public relations practitioners must maintain the fundamentals of media relations while expanding their understanding of media options, and learning the new dance steps.

This research report was originally prepared as a capstone project for completion of the Master of Communication Management program at McMaster University.
Jeremy Berry
Susan Emigh
director of public relations, Faculty of Health Sciences, McMaster University
Susan Emigh has been director of public relations for the Faculty of Health Sciences at McMaster University for the past ten years, responsible for external and internal communications including media relations, as well as strategic planning and crisis and issues management. This follows 25 years at The Hamilton Spectator where her career moved along from reporter, copy editor, senior editor and newsroom administrator to director of research and development for the newspaper.

She has held leadership roles at the Canadian Newspaper Association and the Research Federation of the Newspaper Association of America and she is a member of the Canadian Public Relations Society. Her work, both in journalism and public relations, has won regional, national and international awards.

Susan holds a Bachelor of Applied Arts in Journalism from Ryerson University and she is a student of the Master of Communications Management program at McMaster University.