PR is about more than “highly trusted conversational participants”

Todd Defren has taken a run at a SWOT analysis for the PR Industry.

It’s well written and whilst (as usual) I agree with the vast majority of Todd’s content, one thing kept recurring to me. 

This isn’t a SWOT of Public Relations, this is an analysis of online media relations or a sub-set of Public Relations.

Under “Weakness”, Todd writes:

I’ve been talking about this forever, but the single biggest weakness of PR in the Social Media age is related to scale.  As I noted back in June 2006, “[How can] PR practitioners possibly find the time & energy to create, monitor and nurture the hundreds of relationships that might (or might not) aid their clients?”

I agree, time is a massive issue for everyone, PR people included.

But it’s also a big issue for our audience.

We’re making the assumption that (all) our audiences will be reading 300 online sites, or that our targets (I just put that in to annoy the digeratti! 🙂 ) or should I say our “highly trusted conversational participants” will all be reading hundreds of different sites, channels whatever.

That’s not confirmed at this point.

The continuing deluge of blogs, sites, forums, networks, tools (Twitter, Jaiku, Plurk) is mind bending.

However, how many will stand the test of time? Just because it’s hot today, doesn’t mean it’s here to stay [there’s definitely another post on the value of tactical, transient social media relations..]

How fast is the audience moving online?

How influential is the online audience outside some well worn niches?

Personally I think the vast majority of our PR discussion online is too thin.

The PUBLIC RELATIONS environment is far more interesting, diverse and broad than just social media.

Social media is important, but before we really understand the challenges we probably need to see how these new tools and channels are adopted, by whom and for how long.

Time is definitely an issue, scale will be a greater challenge moving forward, I’m in agreement on that.

But PR = just social media relations?

Nope, I don’t buy that one…. yet.

I think as people who are specialists in helping individuals and organisations to communicate most effectively using the best channels and tools, we have a professional duty to continue to focus on the entire breadth of communications and not solely follow the moth-like orbit around the new new thing.

Do you agree? Or am I an outdated luddite?