There’s been a huge amount of debate about whether or not there is a future for PR in the conversation-based, web 2.0, web 3.0, whatever you want to call it, world. There's a great summary of this debate at Robert Scoble's very thought provoking blog. Which made me think, how could web 2.0 suddenly stop the need for companies to promote themselves, or manage their reputations? Doesn’t it make it even more important now that there is even less corporate control over a message?
And then I realised – ‘PR’ is being substituted in this instance for ‘bad PR’. In other words, the kind of PR that makes no differentiation between online and offline, newspapers and social media sites, bloggers and journalists, a real story and a press release. And so on.
PR is changing, fundamentally. Agencies have a real uphill struggle to pull our clients on board with the new approach to PR – one that doesn’t rely on AVEs to prove return on investment, but actually considers the impact that a good PR strategy could have on end users. This approach involves two-way communication, not one-way ‘push’ communication, as many agencies have been used to in recent years. Companies don’t ‘launch’ any more, they are discovered. A new product won’t achieve national press coverage, until enough people use it to warrant the attention. I’m old enough to remember the days when you could send out a press release on a new company and expect at least one bit of national business coverage, if you positioned it right. These days we have to work much harder, and be much more humble in our approach.
I’m not pretending to know all the answers, not that our agency gets it right all the time. It’s a new world out there, and we’re all finding our way. But if we get it right, we could just strike gold – give good advice to our clients, and be a helpful resource to bloggers, journalists, and industry influencers.