PR: The jack of all trades WILL get the worm…

Ladies and gentlemen. 

For many years our profession has struggled with the issue of “getting a seat at the table”.  This was the issue-de-jour for many years.  How can we get PR to be taken more seriously. It’s probably still an issue but I don’t know for sure because it’s hard to find a lot of opinions on Public Relations – in the broadest sense.

I read there are now over 600 PR bloggers.  That is fantastic.

That is a wealth of information, opinions and viewpoints unimaginable even just a few years ago. 

Back in 2002 you were stuck with a couple of password protected websites, mailing lists – where people with huge egos to match their mouths dominated what today we would call “conversation”. There were, in March 2002, four PR blogs. Interestingly two in Europe and two in the US.

Today it’s all changed. You could lose days and weeks reading PR blogs – that is a fantastic advancement.

However, there is one cloud on this horizon. While the medium of blogging is continuing its slow yet steady path into the general public consciousness, we should not forget that PR is a broad church with many constituencies.

In my ever humble opinion there’s too much discussion of new media in isolation.  The future success of Public Relations doesn’t reside with the adoption of blogging et al – rather it resides in the intersection of the new and the established – I don’t use the word ‘old’ because that has certain nuances with which I don’t agree.

I read a blog yesterday, from a distinguished long time practitioner which had a category for “Legacy PR” – in the name of all things that are sacred.

My distaste for the term “New PR” is only surpassed by the term PR 2.0

Ladies and Gentlemen, if PR 2.0 is your nirvana I strongly suggest you adopt a colorful sock puppet as your mascot and make like a dot com.

PR 2.0 is a nonsense.

[You know me I’m not a big fan of opinions :-)]

PR 2.0 insinuates there’s a PR 1.0 (there isn’t) and that we’re seeing something better emerge to replace it (we aren’t).

This isn’t about replacement, this is about integration. I’ve made this point before many times, and now I’m making it again.

This isn’t just about media relations or blogger relations.

This is why the Web 2.0 “visionaries” are irrelevant.

With PR 2.0 you are pitching an idea whose time has not only not arrived, but never will.

This is NOT about the new new thing. 

By all means investigate the new tools, channels, services and ideas that emerge every second hour. Poke them, see if they have potential uses, share your views, opinions and hopes, but please don’t present them all as the next new new thing. [As an experiment arrange the following words into a sentence: cried, the, wolf, who and boy]

If you are talking about PUBLIC RELATIONS, then it’s not the tools, the channels or the technology that matters – it’s the audience.

When every human being on the planet exclusively receives information from the Web then we should probably revisit this topic.  In the meantime let us have some balance. [Yes there are some more advanced markets where people find more information online – but they still read traditional media.]

Let’s have some really interesting discussion on how the combination of existing tools and techniques with blogs, podcasts etc. are helping PR people do a better job.

Let’s talk about the online stuff that is having an impact on PR today and most people ignore because it’s not shiny, exciting or glamorous.

[e,g, Where is the first place you find information online? A search engine?  How many PR people know about, or offer services on Search Engine Optimization? Surely this is key to online reputation management? No, you’re right flickricious 3.2 is far more important.]

Let’s extend the online discussion into all areas of Public Relations from internal communications to more vertical markets, investor relations, analyst relations, public affairs.

Let’s talk about what matters – the best way to communicate ideas and information.

Let’s leave the hyperbole where it is and talk about PR.

One of the major reasons that Public Relations is such a fascinating profession, is also a reason why its so misunderstood – diversity.

To ignore that diversity and instead focus on inane discussions on the death of the media makes no sense to me.

I think the discussion on new media/tools is fantastic, incredibly interesting and will shape communications in the future, but don’t fall into the trap of forgetting that what we do is communicate – in many different ways, to many different audiences, in many different locations. 

Tools that make that process more effective are welcome, but remember that the tool doesn’t make the communicator, the communicator makes the tool communicate.

Profound or what?

Light fuse and stand back…