PR is more complex than media relations…

Shel Israel and Robert Scoble are in the process of putting together what look’s like an interesting new book called the Red Couch, which aims to provide business people with a guide to blogging and business.

They have a blog accompanying the project and Shel has posted some interesting content including a look at how PR (read media relations) has changed in the past twenty years.

Shel also recently posted some thoughts on how blogging affects journalism and PR.

It contains some interesting thoughts and some points I find myself disagreeing with.

First and foremost it treats PR as media relations and as we know Public Relations stretches far beyond the confines of the editorial suite.  Practitioners working with investors, analysts, staff or the local community are ignored when we define PR as media relations.  Its not that simple.

Secondly we are still dancing around the idea that blogging will destroy the media and will become the first and foremost channel for all communication.  I disagree. Just as we thought the Internet and e-mail would become the sole outlet of communication, blogs are a new and important channel, but I believe it is wrong to assume they will supercede what has gone before. Instead it will join the phone, instant messaging, the face-to-face meeting etc.

As far as journalism goes, blogs extend journalism.  They provide interesting op-eds and can serve as useful media aggregators but do they remove the need for traditional journalism? Not in my opinion.

I agree with Shel that Blogs serve a useful purpose in terms of forcing PR people to think about how they are communicating.  There is a definite trend away from corporate speak to a more personal one-to-one style.  However, there are instances where the one-to-one style doesn’t fit.  For example if you’re looking for detailed technical specifications you probably don’t want some folksy introduction, you want the facts.

Blogs are new and increasingly popular.  But in my opinion blogs are an additional tool, an important tool, but not an end in itself.

Public Relations goes far beyond the dissemination of press materials, far beyond the reach of blogs. When we think about how blogs can help us communicate more effectively it is essential that we understand that we live in a complex, fragmented world where one size does not fit all.

The challenge for PR practitioners is to understand all the channels that are available, understand how to use them effectively to communicate with their audience and understand each channel’s inherent limitations.

There is no silver bullet. If there was we could all get by working a couple of hours a day. Blogs are important, interesting and potentially very powerful, but they are not the only answer.