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Can PR firms survive in a world where public relations no longer controls messages or media?
Public relations firms have sold the illusion of control for far too long. In a world where social media and the Internet have made it obvious that the marketplace still owns the message and the brand, what is a PR firm to do?
PR firms have effectively sold the illusion of control for far too long. “Control” is easy to sell because clients long for it as much as the PR firms do. Sadly for PR firms (and their clients), that plane left the gate a long time ago and they weren’t on it. It’s not coming back for them and they had better figure out another way to get where they’re going or they will be forever left behind. Social media made much of what PR firms do irrelevant. Some have embraced the change and are quickly becoming very skilled at operating in a new world, but many are pitifully holding on to tired old practices. If your firm tells you they are a “traditional PR firm”, know that, in this case, “traditional”
- You don’t “control” the message. You never did. The message has always belonged to the marketplace. Remember “New Coke”? You can participate in the message – even shape it – but ultimately the message and the brand belong to the marketplace.
- You don’t “control the media”. You never did. Good journalists humor you because they know that every now and then you have info they want or need. That’s all. They don’t care about your “exclusivity”
- A crisis can’t be “managed” in the manner you try to manage them. Back in the day when a fire broke out and it took 20 minutes for a news team to arrive on site, it made sense to have your outdated plans for where to meet the media and who would talk to them. Today, everyone with a cell phone is a journalist – and their video of the fire will be on YouTube with hundreds of hits before your client even lets you know that there is a fire.
- Protecting your private media list is just silly. Any high school student with a computer and Internet connection can put together a media list in an hour or two that is likely as good as or better than the one you use (and is likely more accurate and up-to-date). Social media allows anyone with average intelligence to follow and interact with the media.
There’s a great column by David Schwartz (http://brandeducationservices.com/
Public relations is still a viable and important part of any successful marketing program. It can have an impact, build relationships, provide an important service, and help companies and individuals succeed. It is also becoming much easier for the average small business owner (or large corporation)
Read more at www.RickLaneyPR.com.