Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The new PR?*

*Warning aspiration alert...

Much has been written about the new PR versus its more traditional practice; how the industry's changing; what we need to do to adapt.

In many ways, the new PR strikes me as a conceptual cousin to the old PR. Now before you pummel me with a twitstorm of criticism, let me clarify: it's similar if you go back to the essence of PR and its best practices, like two-way symmetric communications (aka conversations).

With MSM in a downward flux and the rise of social networking, there will come a time in the not so distant future when those two lines will cross. And we'll need to rethink the way we communicate and not be so reliant on media relations as the core of our profession.

So with that in mind, here's a quick list of what I think we should be:
- Connectors
- Relationship builders
- Creative content producers/distributors
- Reputation minders

And here's what I hope we're not:
- Spammers
- Direct mailers
- Pitchers
- Loud mouthed BS'ers

The recession has sped up many changes that were already taking place. And just because clients are asking for the same things we did last year doesn't mean we can dismiss the importance of social media.

I think now's the time to gently lead our clients toward the future - not with the promise of ever shiny tools, but with our experience and insights, strategic counsel, data and case studies; and yes, trusting our gut.

But before we do that, we need to participate, to embrace social media and learn how to do it well. I'm not saying traditional PR is over, I say it's time to welcome some new traditions.

3 comments:

Parker said...

I cringe when I hear people talk about how much PR has changed. I'm pretty new to the game, but it seems like some of the basics have stayed the same: helping people tell relevant, accurate and positive stories about your clients.

Whether those people are professional journalists who in turn tell the story to their readers/viewers or whether those people are simply people sharing news via Facebook updates doesn't matter. The basics are still there.

Erick Bauer said...

I think you both make very valid points here. Dave Fleet recently used a very effective "rocks and sand" metaphor to describe the emerging PR landscape - http://bit.ly/12RjCV.

As he mentions, "You can have a jar full of rocks, but there will still be lots of gaps. To fill those gaps, you need sand. Social media is similar – you can have lots of big campaigns, but for your efforts to truly pay off you need the ’sand’ – the long-term foundation that keeps everything in place."

Like Parker, I too am new to the PR game. That said, it doesn’t take years of experience to recognize the importance of the basic notions that will always underlie the PR industry.

Louise said...

Social media is a boon for ethical PR practitioners because it brings into sharp focus what we've been saying for years - conduct public relations campaigns in a way that's honest, transparent and strategic. Many clients (and fellow practitioners) disagreed but now, there's nowhere to hide. A central question of any PR campaign has always been "Who are they and what do they want?" All of our target audiences are now using social media tools to tell us exactly what they want so let's give it to them.