So PR is dead? Oh sorry so it's dying? Oh it's changing…

There’s far too much blog-related navel gazing. There’s so much of itthat there’s a chance that the intelligent, passionate people who zealously promote the benefits of blogs may end up sitting forlornly on a little raft in the bay watching the world go past.

Shel Israel and Robert Scoble‘s chapter for their new book Naked Conversations on Survivial of the Publicists has been widely dissected in my absence, so I don’t intend to reproduce the analysis when (as you can see from the links below) there has already been some detailed commentary.

The chapter is a very interesting read, but rather than tackling where the blog sits in the grand PR architecture, it’s more of an evangelical article that uses some interesting case studies.  I think for that reason alone it is a recommended read for all PR practitioners.

The flaw in the thesis however is that it rehashes the age-old criticisms of PR and presents blogs as the answer to all our ills.

The move towards conversations between individuals and organizations has been inevitable for some time now.  Due credit should be given to the authors of the Cluetrain Manifesto (now stop groaning) who have probably done more to bring this trend to the mainstream than any other group.  Their work has been supplemented by people like Dan Gillmor and of course the emergence of blogging.

But blogging is not the answer to every question.  It is a useful tool that provides a lot of benefits to those willing to commit the time, energy and resources to it.  But it’s not an end in itself.

Public Relations is changing.  But the breadth of the profession means that those change go far beyond blogs.  Do people really think that:

a) PR is dying
b) PR will only center on blogging

If you do, you need to up your dosage.

These are simplistic arguments.

Communications is a multi-faceted undertaking.  When e-mail became popular, organizations got lazy and started driving all their internal communications on it.  They soon learnt through bitter experience that the fastest, easiest and cheapest option, isn’t necessarily the most effective one. Most organizations have now adopted new technologies alongside their exisiting tools.  Don’t forget that face-to-face communication remains the most effective tool in the communications box.

I have been blogging for three years, I pitch blogs, I read RSS, I publish RSS.  I have adopted these technologies but they are only one element of my job. 

Public Relations is about effective communication with an audience.  Do we really think that a time will come when the only way people get information is from blogs? 

PR is changing because the audience is changing.  Any practitioner who fails to move with their audience is in trouble.  Blogs are an important new tool and is a part of those changes, but beware the doomsayers who believe that the are the answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything is blogging. As any Douglas Adams fan can tell you it’s actually 42.