PR is one of the industries that’s taken an alleged “hit” in the last year due to the advent of social media. But I, like many, believe social media is just a new tool that’s making PR more effective – and weeding out the truly great PR executives from the not-so-great.
One of the most exciting things to happen to PR is social media. It’s opened up the opportunity for the industry’s master story tellers and people connectors to do their job more directly – reaching influencers in ways never before possible, and extending our reach well beyond media, which, until now, was the main measurement of PR in the eyes of many companies. But all that’s changing.
Here’s what I see happening in 2010 in PR:
Social media returns the P in PR to “people” – going well beyond “promotion”
There are still PR agencies and executives out there who discount social media and social networks as an important part of their job. “It’s just a tool, it’s a waste of time” they say.
They are missing the point.
Social media helps PR executives to build more new relationships, across a wider landscape and in a sustainable fashion never before possible. Everyone is busy and social media enables professionals to maintain ongoing, quality relationships with influencers, media, customers and partners regardless of where they are or how much time they have for the golf course.
It’s an exciting time to see PR going back to people and relationships. Successful PR executives know how to build and maintain quality relationships – today, social media is a core part of making that happen.
Great PR professionals become influencers in their own right
PR professionals in all industries should embrace social media tools on a daily basis to create a long term community of their own among constituents such as peers, VCs, business leaders, journalists and more. Beyond simply using social media tools in PR campaigns, PR executives have the opportunity to showcase their human side and demonstrate their thinking on a day-to-day basis.
By sharing information and thoughts in these communities, they can become more than just “flacks” with no trust or respect. They can begin to directly influence audiences in their own right. They can demonstrate how they truly understand (and care about) the products, services or industries that they (or their clients) work with each day.
If you’re hiring an agency or an executive to handle your PR, make sure they’re talking – whether it’s on Twitter, a blog, video (Seesmic, YouTube, Vimeo etc.), Facebook, BlogTalkRadio, Utterli or others – building a positive community of their own and a reputation as smart, strategic and savvy experts that others listen to and trust.
However, the myth that social media makes PR obsolete will be crushed
One of the biggest myths in the last year is that social media experts – however you define them – make PR obsolete and unnecessary. Many professionals have bought into the belief that anyone who can use a Flip camera, build a Facebook page or make a few Twitter updates a day can now do PR.
Sure, social media makes communication and promotions easier in some ways, but it doesn’t negate the need for professional public relations experts. Did the ability to dial a phone or send an email make everyone good at PR? No. And neither does social media.
PR professionals who are good at what they do still have a special knack for understanding psychologies of effective messaging and relationship building, the intricacies of good timing and the difference between effective promotion and positioning and outright spamming. If the marketing activity on Twitter is any indicator, good PR is certainly still needed.
Transparency in business communications will weed the great PR executives from the bad
One of the traditional complaints about PR is that it’s a lot of fluff, spin… or given other negative connotations otherwise implying “BS.” Another top complaint – by journalists, mostly – is that PR executives don’t understand who they’re pitching, what to pitch or why.
With the advent of transparency, open communication and the integration of social media into everything that we do, our industry can’t help but weed out the good from the bad. It will become very obvious in 2010 who the truly talented communicators and messaging mavens are. The rest will be finding new jobs.
Businesses will see more value than ever from PR and marketing
With the ability to easily measure influence, traffic and PR campaigns today, businesses will see that PR is easier to measure than ever before. As PR is no longer just about media placements – but rather, driving action from influencers directly – businesses can easily see (and rather quickly, too), if the money they pay for effective PR and marketing is working.
With all the great measurement tools available today, any good PR executive or agency should be able to show a monthly list of results – whether it’s brand mentions, media placements, site traffic, social media campaign participation, direct sales or otherwise. Any good communications professional today should be able to measure their efforts for you and ensure that your money is being spent more wisely than ever – positively impacting your bottom line.
The bottom line – good PR will be easier to identify, meaning businesses such as yours can spend marketing dollars more wisely than ever. It’s easy to see if the PR professionals you hire or work with are respected, listened to and influential, making PR more honest, real and effective for your business.
Thank you for contributing your fantastic insights into the future of PR. You really get it.
You said,”With the advent of transparency, open communication and the integration of social media into everything that we do, our industry can’t help but weed out the good from the bad. It will become very obvious in 2010 who the truly talented communicators and messaging mavens are. The rest will be finding new jobs.”
I don’t think that Perkett PR will be weeded out.
We may not of ever connected, if it wasn’t for all this silly, useless, social media stuff.
The Franchise King
It is interesting the myths that get coverage such as in your article that social media will make PR unnecessary. Perhaps that is why some PR firms reacted by saying social media is just a tool.
PR has always been an important element of marketing and adds another dimension to building relationships etc. I would add that the PR firms that are proactive and intent on developing a long term relationship with a client’s brand and company rather than focus on one off campaigns will as always succeed.
Thanks for the article.
Christine Perkett: You have written a very thoughtful article! It should be circulated to PR firms, advertising agencies, marketing companies, etc.
Have you read The Fall of PR & the Rise of Advertising by Stefan Engeseth? Check out his site at http://www.DetectiveMarketing.com. You could download the book as a free PDF version.
All the Best,
Martin Lindeskog – American in spirit.
P.S. How is Red Sox doing? I am sorry to hear about the Pats… I learned to like American Football during my studies in Manchester, NH.
Christine, thanks for a great article. I’d also like to point out that in 2009 we saw the dangerous trend of people finally realizing just how easy it is to get their “15 minutes of fame.” From the Heenes to the Salahis, it seemed everywhere we turned someone was stealing the headlines. I’d certainly like to see 2010 bring a realization that – although this behavior does in fact sell plenty of magazines – we really need to stop giving these people so much attention. My point to all of this is that technology, the Internet and social media have all combined to give people the chance to get publicity – good and bad. The good news is that this also means everyday entrepreneurs also have the ability to use this technology and tools to get wonderful PR for their own growing business.
“Great PR professionals become influencers in their own right”
This is silly. Any PR pro knows it should never be about them, it should be about the client.
I’ve always believed that PR was all about connections. The best PR people and agencies were those with the most connections. All social media has done is provide an additional method for obtaining connections. PR that embraces social media will gain even more connections and become more valuable. Those who shun social media will fall behind. Great post.
I would like to thank everyone who has taken the time to read the article, and especially to those of you who have commented. I’m not a fortune teller and I don’t claim to know everything. I was asked to give my thoughts on predictions and I did – we’ll see at this time next year how I did.
These are my opinions – we all have them. For those of you who are sincerely reading this with the mindset of PR and marketing, thank you. I appreciate the dialog. Keep in mind, I was not only trying to focus on PR and Marketing but questions that SMB owners – the readers of this blog – would have in mind about PR and marketing in 2010.
Joel – thank you for being such a good friend and connecting me with this opportunity. I learn great things from you and am so appreciative of your support for PerkettPR.
Susan – I love busting myths, don’t you? 🙂
Martin – thank you so much – I’m glad that you found the piece thought-provoking. I do, indeed, own the book … however, the title is rather, “The Fall of Advertising and the Rise of PR.” 🙂 Luckily for me! And the Red Sox are mixing up the team once again – but I always keep the faith and look forward to spring training soon!
John – I agree – the 15 minutes of fame is a dangerous trend but only if we fear that it has lasting impact. Most won’t… they’re shallow intentions are clear and therefore, I agree, let’s stop giving them the attention they don’t deserve.
Darren – so far you’re the only negative comment but I do again appreciate any dialog that can help us learn. I do however, think you are missing my point. Of course it’s about the client. But if my connections, relationships and influence can help influence others positively for my clients, that’s a good thing. Respected journalist Tom Foremski (@tomforemski) talked a bit about this very topic in October: http://bit.ly/6ZeSRZ – however, his last comment seems to sway your way a bit. I respectfully disagree and believe that the more relationships I build, the better it is for my clients. Tom will be an upcoming guest on our blog and I’ll be sure to bring this topic into the fold of the conversation. It’s a good debate, so thanks for bringing it to light.
Robert – I agree… hence my points above to Darren. Thank you for the compliment and for reading.
To everyone who has retweeted this article, thank you. Thanks for reading and posting – if you get a chance, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments as well. I will respond to everyone as I can.
Let’s keep the conversation going – and remember, we’re here on this site to help SMBs as well. So if you have great advice on the PR and marketing front that ties into 2010 predictions, please be sure to share.
Thank you very much for your answer and your informative replies. You are really good at “feedforward” thinking! 🙂
“The Fall of Advertising and the Rise of PR” is by Al Ries and Laura Ries. Stefan Engeseth has written a book called “The Fall of PR & the Rise of Advertising.”
Here is an excerpt from Stefan Engeseth’s article, Swedish PR industry is a sacred cow: http://bit.ly/5N2St2
“In 2002 Al Ries and Luara Ries’ shook the foundations of the advertising world with their best-seller The Fall of Advertising & the Rise of PR. Recently at the Cannes Lions Advertising Festival, I released my latest book, The Fall of PR and the rise of Advertising, which describes the PR industry’s rise and possible fall.” (The Swedish Wire, November 2, 2009.)
Al Ries has written the foreword to Stefan Engeseth’s book!
Forgive the “silly” label, maybe it was a bit harsh, and I certainly was not trying to be negative. I just don’t think a PR firm should ever outshine the client.
To me, being an influencer means being an expert in that particular conversation. PR firms and ad agencies (mine included) should do everything they can to promote their clients. But we should never think that we could ever know enough about a particular industry to become “influencers” (unless we were to specialize in that industry).
That being said, you do make some great points otherwise. I just think we as marketers should always remember our place in the pecking order.
Unfortunately I do think that we may start to see PR lose a little ground, because too many celebrities, businesses, etc., believe that they can do a better job than the PR specialists they once had.
It will take a few damaging cases in order to build the importance of PR by a specialist.
Just look at Ashton Kutcher – he’s doing okay boosting his brand on twitter without the help of a PR specialist. But on the other side of the coin, which I think we’ll need to see a lot more of, is the NBA player Gilbert Arenas after he made a few “dumb ass” tweets after his locker room gun incident.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out.
Drew, thanks for reading and commenting. I agree with you – a lot of folks think they can do PR well, and it’s only worsened with the advent of social media. I wrote about that topic just over a year ago on my agency’s blog, if you’re interested – would love to hear what you think:
Can I Do My Own PR?
I really enjoyed your article! The way that you explained the trends and shifts in public relations was very useful, and I appreciate your insights. As I am beginning my career in the field, I am intrigued to learn about all the ways that we can use social media to interact, network, and market. It seems like almost every day social media is changing and shifting to include more opportunities for the PR expert. I agree that we need to embrace these opportunities and use them wisely to increase our audiences. Thanks for the article!