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PR Is Dead...Long Live PR

Reports of PR's death are greatly exaggerated

Reports of PR's death, greatly exaggerated “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 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. Now that print media is in decline, they say PR is on it’s way out as well. They never understood that press releases and published articles 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 attractive as this might sound, it is of course, hogwash. Any substantive expert on SEO will 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 for the medium you are using. If you focus on these elements and then augment them with a bit of coding strategy, you will have truly effective SEO results.

The same is true when working within social network sites and blogs. A simple technician can set up links to your blog and FaceBook page, but it takes a highly skilled communicator to effectively manage the customer relationships that these sites create. And that’s what PR is really all about.

Press releases haven’t gone away. They are now more important than ever before (see my earlier blog on this subject). Magazines haven’t gone away either. They’ve just expanded online. Journalists haven’t disappeared. They’re also online, along with a host of bloggers, freelancers and forum writers that are also writing about you and your company.

This means that PR isn’t going away either. It has just become more complex and more important to a strategic communications plan than ever before.

To be sure, the role of PR has evolved and practitioners have had to add new skill sets and adapt traditional expertise to an entirely new set of strategies. But their expertise has become critical.

An 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 also convert visitors into customers. An HTML expert might promise you more GoogleAd visibility, but it will take PR expertise to ensure the right people are clicking on your ad, reading your information, judging you to be an industry expert and becoming loyal customers.

This is hardcore PR, pure and simple. There will always be those who promise a cheap and easy route to success. They were the ones who thought a marketing plan consisted of sending poorly written, ineffectual press releases out over BusinessWire and hoping for the best. Today, they are the ones promising success through cheap technical trickery.

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 pro is a public relations expert.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Brad Brenner

Brad Lee Brenner is a master blogger, radio host and founder of Brenner Associates, a public relations / communications firm headquartered in Portland, Oregon. Over the past thirty years, Brad has written hundreds of articles that have been published in trade journals, newspapers and online news sources. His focus of expertise includes technology, the medical industry and communications for the digital age.

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Most Recent Comments
ihapa 06/24/09 03:27:00 PM EDT

Hey Brad,

I totally agree -- digital technology, and social media specifically, are tools that enhance the experience(s) of tradition PR pros. However, I must add (and you clearly note) that if those in PR do not accept the shift that is occurring, they will be left in the dust and without jobs ;)

C

JFUNNELL 05/29/09 11:28:00 AM EDT

Totally Agree,

PR is not dead, in fact we have more to manage.

That said I can see more companies do it in-house.