Monday, September 15, 2008

What is PR these days?

In looking at the changing role of PR companies for a prospective business venture, I was reminded of a useful blog posting I'd read some while back
"Would PR Rather Not Be Measured? " by Brian Cavoli of Cymphony.
(Note: Its a real shame to see that Jim Nail and the crew at TNS/Cymfony haven't been updating their blog much recently. Perhaps the WPP takeover has taken up too much of their time)

This recent flurry of PR research has led me to observe that PR companies have changed significantly in the last few years, especially as I realised that Brian's article was written over 2 and a half years ago.

But this does beg the question of "what is the modern role of PR?"

Q: Is it to know a small number of media people who can be easily influenced over a dinner and beer?
A: Perhaps, but that's not the main part of their role. Even modern PR people admit you need results not just influence.

Q: Is it to blanket-bomb the same set of journalists and other market commentators on behalf of your client?
A: Errr.... No! Thanks to the long-tail of knowledge and specialisation, there are often far more industry-specific people to set up a dialogue with than general journo-types.

Q: Is it to monitor blogs and other social media on behalf of their clients?
A: Yes! In fact I am aware of more than one PR company that now watches numerous blog feeds at the same time (Indeed, one forward-thinking one has even built a Yahoo Pipes application to filter keyword and terms from numerous RSS sources). They should then provide honest feedback to their clients to enable them to make more informed decisons and communication plans.

Steve Rubel however mentions in a recent posting that perhaps PR is becoming obsolete, especially in the modern technical world. I disagree, but perhaps in the case of the Yahoo-Piping company above, PR may need to be more technical to survive.
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