Tom Foremskiâ€™s post last week on the pending disruption facing PR provoked some thoughts.
First on the post itself… Reading the article, it struck me that while Tom has an illustrious career in journalism and therefore a lot of experience working with PR people, and he has clearly been working closely with PR firms in the valley, he seems to have little real understanding of the inner workings of the PR business and more importantly why organizations retain the services of a PR firm or a consultant.
While media relations continues to be a significant, and high profile part of Public Relations, it is only one of many components of modern PR, from strategic advice, analyst relations and internal communications to community affairs and the list goes on and on. Therefore tying PRâ€™s fortunes exclusively to the media is a little simplistic for my tastes. Yes when the media melt down took place with the Internet crash PR was effected, but it wasnâ€™t just the media crash that effected PR it was the fact that all those start-ups (and that revenue) disappeared.
PR is all about communicating effectively with an audience. PR people can add real value to companies by helping them understand how to communicate effectively and by understanding the right â€œmediaâ€ to use â€“ whether that is journalists, blogs, search engines or anything else.
Tom makes a good point that PR doesnâ€™t drive sales â€“ or should I say PR people have never done a good job of communicating how PR can help the sales process. But then should PR be only about sales? We should do a better job of connecting the dots, but this isnâ€™t telesales or field sales. PR operates on a whole range of different levels in the sales process from awareness, education, lead generation and cognitive dissonance.
Where I do agree with Tom is that there are changes taking place, but the mainstream PR business is not going to give way to some shiny new profession â€“ thatâ€™s unrealistic. Instead the PR business will expand its service offerings to meet clientsâ€™ new needs. There will be changes, but make no mistake, PR isnâ€™t going anywhere. Communication with an audience remains as important â€“ if not more important as the media fragments.
The challenge for all of us, is to understand how to most effectively reach and communicate with an audience. Thatâ€™s where the focus needs to be.