PR is Dead….Long Live PR

Screen Shot 2015-01-19 at 5.43.50 PM“Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated” – a quote attributed to Mark Twain but apropos for today’s PR industry.

I’ve seen several pieces of late, written by journalists and bloggers who appear rushed to sound the death knell over public relations. “New media and Web 2.0 have changed the game,” they say, “and make public relations obsolete.”

Fact is – public relations expertise is more relevant, more important today than ever before. Search engine marketing, social network marketing, Web 2.0 applications and the like have all served to increase – not decrease – the value and demand for high-quality public relations.

Doomsayers don’t get it. They think PR is all about writing a press release or getting a story in a magazine. They never understood that these are just means to an end. The core of PR has always been about communication skills and strategies – the ability to evaluate the competitive landscape, identify the right messages and succinctly and effectively communicate those messages to the right audience –wherever they may be.

The doomsayer would like you to think, for instance, that search engine optimization is all about trickery. Add a meta tag descriptor here, pepper a page with keywords there and WAHLAH!, customers will come flocking to your site to buy your stuff.

As exciting as this might sound, of course, this is hogwash. Any substantive book on SEO will briefly mention meta tags but will hammer home the biggest point over and over again – effective SEO is really all about content – and content is public relations: who is your audience, what do you want to say and what is the best way to say it on your website.

To be sure, SEO requires PR experts to understand this newer medium. They must not only know how to identify messages and write great copy, but now they must also add the elements essential in attracting the attention of the search engine spiders. A SEO technician can write all the backend code he/she wants but it will take expert writing skills to create copy that will not only get you listed high in a Google search but will then convert visitors into customers. This is hardcore PR, pure and simple.

The same is true when working within social network sites or blogging. A simple technician can set up links to blogs and FaceBook pages but it takes a highly skilled communicator to effectively manage the relationships that these sites create between the company and its customers. And that’s what it’s really all about.

There will always be those that are looking for the cheap and easy route to success. In the past, you could identify this type by looking through the wastebasket or the e-mail trashcan belonging to your favorite reporters. Today, you find them on page 6 of your Google search or on company websites that took you :30 seconds to realize you weren’t where you wanted to be.

Those who thought that PR was nothing but sending out press releases are those that are telling you all you need is an SEO technician to maximize your site.

The fact is, marketing today is more complicated and more multi-faceted than ever before. Creating, managing and maximizing the success of a marketing program in the digital age requires a real pro – and today, more than ever, that professional is a public relations expert.

Those who believe PR is at an end are those that think it is nothering more than writing press releases.

Public Relations didn’t go away with the advent of radio or later with the advent of television or with …… it didn’t go away, it only evolved and became more critical than ever before.

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