It’s PR, but not as we know it

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to make the online PR debate organised by NMK last night, but I’ve been following the fallout today on Twitter and entering into the fray myself, as well as catching up on the blog posts that are now starting to trickle through.

It looks like it was a good event (as Ian’s always are) that tossed around some interesting arguments.

For me though, I get slightly annoyed by the need to define everything. Often we go out of our way to define something which then loses its meaning or is interpreted in a different way. It’s all just semantics really.

And the jargon of new media certainly falls into this space. It is why PR is so synonymous with media relations and journalism. Why SEO and social media seemingly also exist (or feel they need to exist) within their own spheres.

I’m not saying that specialisms aren’t important but that rather than PR v. SEO v. digital etc., we should be looking at the wider, bigger picture. I’m sure this is how many of our (as agencies) clients see things; the bottom line is everything for them. [And I note that it was pretty agency-weighted last night]

This is what we are attempting to do more and more at Wildfire. We are seeing the blurring of disciplines and are also identifying areas where the traditioanl media aspect of PR is dying very quickly. Our venture into new realms isn’t driven by shiny new toys and networks, but by an attempt to get results for our clients and influence the publics they are attempting to reach.

Now to me, this feels very much like a definition of PR. But, I am aware that it is equally true of other disciplines, e.g. advertising, as this Ad Age article demonstrates.

One thing underlines all these tactics though, and that is establishing a message and conveying this to an audience – and this is something that PR professionals are usually very well placed to do. The conveying might be through traditional media, it might be through engagement or conversation on social networks or it might involve search engines and advertising.

As a PR (and marketing) professional (caveat: who is and has been immersed in digital and social media), I am excited and thrilled by the opportunity the internet and digital affords us practionners and our clients or businesses.It’s refreshing to be able to knock out the middle man, to ‘go direct’.

And in order to achieve this effectively, the more tools we have in our tool box, the more options we have and the more potential we can achieve.

The future is bright. It might not be PR as we know it. It might not be called PR. It might even be called social media and be carried out by ‘social media experts’ 🙂

But my bet is that no one group will dominate and that there will be plenty of new tricks to learn and plenty for everyone to practice.

picture credit


Lots of chatter about this – here is a quick round-up:
Lloyd Gofton

Peter Hay (PR Week)

Jo-Rosie Haffenden

Rowan Stanfield

Roger Warner

Jed Hallam

Ian Delaney

Steven Waddington

Gerel Orgil

Drew Benvie

8 Replies to “It’s PR, but not as we know it”

  1. I guess this blurring you talk of, or convergence, is really what the problem around defining the semantics and nomenclature is all about. In digital marketing we conduct activity from most disciplines for most clients – indeed it’s almost critical to a successful campaign. Don’t forget that seo used to just be that before it became search engine marketing when it embraced link building. With outreach in tow now as part of success we should just call it digital marketing and be done with it!

    Tim Aldiss’s last blog post..IBM on change, intelligence, connectivity and analytics

  2. You gotta try and make the next one Danny. Would be good to catch up. Really, on the night, we (the digital debaters) weren’t trying to put things in boxes. We were asking ‘what has Big PR done to earn the right to lead clients in Online…?’

    My beef is that service models haven’t changed, and because of this many (traditional Media Relations) firms are losing out and will find themselves sidelined in the short term.

    So, I care less for definitions and more about delivery (as does every single client right now)… and its this that a classic PR agency isnt addressing.

    Meantime, everything you say is absolutely right. But what does this look like in a ‘new’ PR firm…? There’s not much going on right now….

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