You can read the Econsultancy piece here. My full comments are below:
Foremski’s problem is one that seems to afflict many other journalists and it’s an automatic conclusion that PR is intrinsically linked to journalists and press releases. Seen in this light, it’s perhaps understandable that he sees PR as “…a form of SEO; whether the PR industry understands this or not”.
Seen in this light, his argument that Google is out to kill PR is perhaps true.
But my argument in somewhat different. PR has always been about building awareness of a brand or a cause and raising, upholding reputations. PRs have used an array of tactics to achieve this of which the media and organic/paid search are one.
Foremski argues that, with the Panda and Penguin updates, Google has moved away from number of links towards purity, quality and a diverse range of signals, including social media. I don’t see any of that as a threat to PR, I see that as a threat to SEO and an opportunity for PR.
Foremski goes on to give his advice to companies: “Don’t worry about links and SEO beyond the basics. Concentrate on pleasing your customers, let the search engines optimize themselves.” I couldn’t agree with him more. Create great content that your audience will automatically want to share, and Google should take care of the rest. So again, where’s the threat to PR here?
Finally, Foremski quotes Google’s latest update – “”Create unique, relevant content that can naturally gain popularity in the Internet community”. Again, for me, that perfectly describes the role of a PR person or agency.
I agree that if PRs use unsavoury tactics such as buying links or fans then they will quickly become unstuck. But that’s not what modern PR is about and it isn’t what the very best PR agencies are focused on in 2013. They are focused on creating new communication strategies that make the most of the vast array of channels and platforms out there. Yes PR has had to adapt and change to new technological developments just as many other industries have. But the opportunities are there for all to see. It’s why we see agencies from across the marketing sphere hiring PRs and content specialists.
Do I think the press release will die? Yes. Do I think the practice of littering releases across the web via newswires will/should die? Yes. Do I think SEO will die? Very likely. Do I think journalism will die? No, but it’s going to have to drastically change. Do I think PR will die? Well, it depends how you define PR, but if it is defined as a way of producing high quality content and distributing it across all relevant channels to raise awareness and reputation, then I think the answer is a categorical no.
As a PR, I respect Tom Foremski for his excellent linkbait. But when a journalist starts an opinion piece with a sweeping statement, ending in a question mark, you usually know what you’re going to get.