Some PR posts and a mini rant…

So I’ve been trawling through my PR RSS feeds and I’m including some interesting posts below, but before I get to that indulge me for a moment… 

Mini rant: What was interesting in reviewing these posts is the fact that the ‘PR 2.0’ moniker continues to live.  What is PR 2.0?  Should my business card say that I’m a PR 1.0 practitioner, or a PR 1.7.5 practitioner or maybe I can get ahead and say I’m a PR 3.1 practitioner? Here’s a secret truth. There’s no PR 2.0.  There’s just PR.  PR practice is either good (using the right tools and channels to reach, inform and engage the right audience in the right place at the right time) or bad (not using the right tools and channels etc. etc.).  There’s no 2.0.  Stop trying to make yourself sound more interesting.

image The award for the most obvious statement(s) of the week goes to John Bell at Ogilvy in this PR Week story.  I was going to include a quote, but there’s too many. Far too many. Lord.
image Andrew Bruce Smith has an interesting post on whether PR really is about reputation management.


Aven Hames has a report on Paul Holmes’ predictions for PR in 2012 – there are some hardy annuals in there (e.g. PR in the executive suite).


Paul Seaman shares some interesting thoughts on the Edelman Trust Barometer. You can find more news and views on the Trust Barometer here.


Heather Yaxley has kicked off and interesting discussion “Are you too smart to work in PR”. David Reich also chimes in. I’m not Smile


Illustrating just how far behind I am with my RSS feeds here are 10 PR predictions for 2012 from Beth Monaghan.


Finally a nice post by Ariel Kouvaras on three things to keep in mind as the tools and channels of PR change and evolve.

  • Be curious
  • Be a thinker
  • Be open to change


Enough said.

Do PR agencies need to adapt or die?

Darika Ahrens at Forrester has blogged that that changing nature of ‘interactive marketing’ has the potential to make PR agencies largely irrelevant:

Why is PR at risk of losing their seat at the interactive table?

  • Traditional media decreasing in relevancy
  • Frontline ‘public relations’ online moving in-house
  • PR agencies tend to lack specialised service
  • Interactive marketing spend is dominated by Search and Paid advertising

She believes that the answer to the ‘problem’ facing PR agencies, among other things, is to build their search engine capabilities.

I haven’t seen the reaction to this yet though I’m sure there’ll be much breathless discussion of the topic across Twitter.

I have two core thoughts on the matter.

Firstly, ‘traditional PR’ is not dying as quickly as (it’s ever) been forecasted.  The reality is that traditional media still drives the majority of news cycles and much of the emerging online news is driven by key, identifiable influencers.  As a result the core PR business will survive for the time being.

Secondly, do PR agencies need to review the services they are offering and the skills of their people? Well that question isn’t reserved just for PR agencies.  Every PR and marketing professional needs to review their skills and capabilities in view of the new ways people are finding, sharing and creating information online. PR agencies are no different, they need to match the need for traditional services with services that address changing models of influence.  That’s their business.

The model for online marketing is evolving and changing in step with consumer consumption habits.  The idea that ‘interactive agencies’ will simply replace PR firms is at best a long shot and at worst a fallacy.

We live in interesting times.  One of the most enjoyable elements of a career in Public Relations is the constant need to change and adapt. The past ten years has shown me that change never takes place as quickly as people expect, but that change does happen. It’s not just PR firms that need to be actively looking at how the models of influence are changing, it’s every marketers’ challenge.


Today’s a busy day for the PR agency love meme. Haydn Shaughnessy over at Forbes has an interesting post on what PR companies are doing wrong.

Is the online world growing up? What about PR?

Interesting news from New York that a supreme court judge has ruled that Liskula Cohen is entitled to information that would help her to identify an anonymous blogger who called her a “skank”.

If she follows through that could be a very interesting development indeed.

Meanwhile Mark Creaser is pondering if PR agencies are redundant in 2009.

Digital Agencies are already elbowing PR aside, and within a couple of years, a traditional PR agency will be fairly niche. Times change, and in 2010 people will want to feel increasingly engaged with the brands and people they choose to do business with.

Now I think Mark makes some interesting points, but I don’t buy it – his argument that is, not PR agency services. I do buy them.

If there’s been one consistent PR-related theme on the interweb over the past five years it has been the death of PR and the death of PR agencies.

From what I am observing, there is a lot of innovation taking place inside PR firms, probably not enough, but it is happening.

Yes I am also seeing “digital” agencies stepping in and driving online campaigns, which in my opinion, is a huge missed (revenue and mindshare) opportunity for PR firms, but if PR agencies are smart and continue to develop their services and skills, then over time you could see PR firms taking back much of that budget.

Great communications is all about understanding your audience and engaging with them.  The idea that we’re facing into a time where we do all our outreach in-house just isn’t credible in my opinion.

Firstly let’s not forget that online is one (albeit a strong growing) element of the communications mix.  Secondly, while I am not by any means an apologist for PR firms, they do bring a range of benefits to companies from an outside-in perspective, to reach, expertise and much more.

PR firms aren’t going anywhere.

Communications in an age of social media is arguably more important now, than ever. Firms who invest in their people and their expertise, who spend time understanding the impact of online and how it sits with traditional channels (not just media folks) will continue to thrive.

Of course that’s just my opinion. I’d be much more worried about the future of “social media” gurus than PR firms…. but that’s for another day.

How are PR budgets, people and agencies faring?

The New York Times story below referenced a study by University of Southern California Annenberg Strategic Communication and Public Relations Center on the impact of the recession on PR budgets.

Clearing my inbox I realized that I had meant to blog about this study back in February… ahem!

There are some interesting findings on how PR is doing in the current economic environment….


  • 40% of the 200 organizations surveyed have had their current year budget reduced – with 27% reporting an increase in budget.
  • 41% attribute this to the economic downturn (6% believe it has nothing to do with the downturn – they probably don’t read the papers);
  • The average decrease was –18.8% the average increase was 16.2%
  • 51% report year-on-year budget reductions (average –19.3%) – 18% report increases (average 14.2%)
  • Overall PR budgets among the 200 companies have fallen 10.8%

Agency Spend

  • 69% are planning to reduce agency fees and 28% have already done so

PR Staff

  • 63% do not expect to reduce full-time headcount  – 15% will increase headcount

Staff Compensation

  • 93% do not expect to reduce compensation while 39% expect pay freezes

You can get a copy of the results at: