True public relations is a fundamental and helpful part of the communications mix. The issue I have with the question is that it usually comes from the marketing side - those people who have been pushing messaging at us in the first place. Raise your hand if you did PR the spammy way; in that case you need to reinvent yourself and your relevance to the business community.
For the rest of us - we are and have been on the value side of the conversations for a long time.
If you're familiar with junk science, you know that it usually leverages false syllogism to get you to believe certain points as facts when instead they are the construct of the group determined to stir you in a different direction. Personally, I've never been keen of personal agendas - they tend to have the lie built in the question.
Having said all that. I still get plenty of press release and pitches from practitioners who target me blindly. Do take a moment to ask yourself - is a blanket email worth getting tagged as spam for the duration? Today every professional has the tools to listen to online conversations, why not use them?
Knowing what you're listening for and what to do with your new knowledge can make a difference.
Practicing public relations can lead to a very successful thought leadership program, for example. John Bell at Ogilvy Digital PR jotted down a few ideas for the skills a public relations pro will need in the future. Interesting that one year ago a commenter would push back on digital - more and more people consume their information online. Also, the reason why traditional or mainstream media is still on everyone's radar is that it reaches larger numbers - it scales better, for now.
However, we should not think either/or. Can we stop debating that already? It's both. A couple of weeks ago, I posted about the skills I felt a PR candidate would need. How would such a candidate demonstrate value to the organization?
- don't be afraid to draw a direct line of correlation between PR activities and leads - in digital environments this is possible and a must. Knowledge of search engine optimization techniques is also key - mind you, this means you tag your content truthfully, to be found more easily for what you indeed offer
- educate the organization on the value of speaking with its publics - this is especially helpful in the event of a crisis, which online may happen more frequently and need a faster response
- facilitate conversations with subject matter experts and influencers - whether those be mainstream media or another group
- monitor, listen to, and know what to listen for in conversations - helping insert valuable content at the appropriate time with honesty and transparency
- train and educate technical experts and spokespeople on the importance of being available as resources (John also mentioned it)
The PR industry needs to get with the new reality of conversation - but so does its marketing sibling, and in a big way. I sat in the front row for Brian Halligan's catchy statement at the Inbound Marketing Summit. Good on Brian for elaborating further with the post. I still don't buy the premise. Also see Todd Defren's reaction.
While I have plenty more ideas, I'd like to hear from you. What else do you see in the future of PR?
[image of listening post by Mark Hansen and Ben Rubin]
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