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What Repeal of Net Neutrality Means to Public Relations Professionals – and Other Communicators

by | Dec 19, 2017

Net neutrality is one of those subjects people have likely heard about, but don’t really know how it affects them, reports the Institute for Public Relations, which added that  since “the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has repealed its net neutrality regulations, many pundits are speculating this new regulatory environment will either shut down or spur the growth of the internet. While opinions on the subject vary across the political spectrum, it is difficult to accurately predict how the repeal of net neutrality will actually affect the internet, consumers, and communication professionals. However, what is known is that the repeal has the potential to change the way the internet works and the trajectory of its development. As a result, anyone placing, writing, or managing content online, especially public relations professionals, needs to know what the FCC’s repeal of net neutrality means for them.”

The Institute for Public Relations article, in part, added:


“So What Does This Repeal Mean for Public Relations?

“The answer to the above question is, it depends on what the ISPs do.  Right now the implementation of the repeal has not been completed, and ISPs, such as AT&T, Cox Communications, and Comcast, have stated that internet service will remain the same (AT&T Blog Team, 2017; Roberts, 2017; Cox Remains Committed to Net Neutrality Rules, 2017). Backing away from those commitments may be difficult right now, especially since these organizations state they will not slow or block content.

“However, PR professionals need to be aware of the possibilities that exist under the repeal of net neutrality.  This new regulation means ISPs are now in the position to charge for faster delivery of certain content.  Whether or not they will do so remains to be seen. The slower the delivery of a message, the more like it is that a user will not stay around to receive it.  For PR practitioners this is extremely important because content creation is not just about saying the right things, but reaching the right people.  If publics aren’t there to receive the message then the effectiveness of PR diminishes.

“What PR Professionals Need to Know:

If ISPs begin to charge for faster delivery and block or slow particular content it will most likely occur over time as ISPs currently have supported maintaining the status-quo on content delivery.  However, if ISPs begin to make changes to online delivery PR professionals could experience three things:

“Paid communication is going to be even more important.  Since the advent of social media and the rise of digital communication public relations work has had to triangulate its communication practice between earned, owned, and paid media.  The result has been a blurring of lines between public relations and advertising work, and the rise of paid media as part of many campaigns.  Because the new FCC regulation allows ISPs to charge for faster delivery then the speed of content distribution will become a factor for PR communication. PR professionals will have to determine how fast content may be delivered online, and decide what outlets are best for all forms of content whether it be paid, owned, or earned.  This not only will affect decisions for owned and paid content, but also pitches for earned media.  It may be the case that earned media in multiple outlets is even more important than before because preference can be given by ISPs to content from media outlets from their parent companies or from those who pay for faster delivery.”

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