The King is Dead; Long Live the King!
By: Lisa Langsdorf, Account Director, Fusion NY
Few things bother me more than receiving unsolicited LinkedIn emails asking if I believe it PR is dead. It’s bothered me so much that I’ve been mulling over my response for months. The knee jerk reaction played out in my head has tempted me to do one of the following:
- Tell the PR person that they know nothing about PR and that they make other PR people look bad.
- Tell the person that everything is either dying or dead.
- Tell the person to get a life.
The truth is that media has evolved. However, what we take as a next step will determine which PR people succeed, and which do not.
When broached with the question a week ago from a potential client, “do you guys do social media,” we answered with the response “yes” and pressed the possible client on what he meant by “social media.” Some PR shops still think that social media just means targeting bloggers. While bloggers have a place in the schema, they don’t represent the entire ecosystem of social media PR, which in my opinion has evolved into the territory of marketing.
A lot of the online viral marketing programs that are developed to drive a community also fall into the role of PR – especially if your campaign is developed to build buzz, rather than conversion. Social media PR has taken on new grassroots and viral elements that may have been forgotten in the way most in the industry have conducted PR in the past decade. We should be testing the social media waters as much as possible by identifying targeted communities, creating programs to reach them and building campaigns around these different groups.
The problem, is that somewhere along the line, someone interpreted PR to only mean media relations. I went to school for journalism, and begrudgingly sat in numerous PR classes where my professors explained how PR people should communicate to the public – directly. Press coverage was a means to an end, but it wasn’t the only option.
As PR people, we should be consider the aforementioned question as a call to action. We have a choice. Either we can start embracing social media in the true sense, or we can fall back on what many have relied on for years—media relations. I, for one, want to offer my clients something that they’re not necessarily going to be able to do on their own. Something they see as strategic, and not easily replaceable. Being able to engage with the community, know their pain points and get them excited about a product or company is priceless.
I’m not saying that media relations is dead—it’s not. No matter the layoffs and what pundits say about how media is changing, the media will always play an important part in our lives. Case in point—when I have free time during the day, I’m not just on Facebook but I’m looking at news sites (okay, so maybe US magazine isn’t really news, but it is media).
Media is evolving, rapidly. So, the final question becomes, sink or swim?