Is PR dead? You tell me….

Hi y’all. I’m giving a talk to the Public Relations Society of America later this week, with a working title of “PR: 0, Bloggers: 1”, and rather than retread the same tired examples, I’d like to ask if any of you have interesting examples of either expensive PR campaigns that were a fail or very inexpensive grassroots blog/social media-based campaigns that were a huge success.
I’ll share my notes post-event.
Oh, and if you think PR is just completely dead because “we are the conversation” or whatever, or think that PR’s just as essential as it has been for the last 100 years, I’d like to hear from you too!
Thanks.

50 comments on “Is PR dead? You tell me….

  1. I may be biased, but I’ve gotten glowing thank yous and pats on the back for the PR work I’ve done with bloggers.
    PR isn’t dead. You just have to stop believing it’s the magic bullet or an evil power. If PR reps had the power to give value to bloggers and bloggers understood the power of giving value to companies for mutual advancement – the world would be an amazing place.

  2. Dave,
    Being in the public relations industry myself, I feel our service is still relevant and essential for companies to succeed. However, I think if those in our industry don’t progress and embrace social media as part of the “accepted” communications mediums, they are making a big mistake and missing out on perhaps the more important conversation out there – peer to peer.
    Our firm is looking more and more into social media as a way to enhance our clients visibility out in the marketplace. One such client that we’ve found success with is The Wyland Waikiki hotel on Oahu. It just opened last year and has quickly become recognized as the new hip and stylish hotel in the area. What did we do?
    * Earlier this year launched a blog – Drop In To The Wyland Waikiki – http://wylandwaikikiblog.wordpress.com – which has been gaining traction and generating bookings. It’s authored by the hotel’s General Manager Robin Graf and is more of a personal corporate blog if you will. He’s also one of the only (if not the only) GM in Hawaii blogging. Robin shares his passion for surfing, every day living in Hawaii, trials and tribulations of managing a hotel, and anything else that’s topical. And it’s been working. He’s been featured in the press:
    http://archives.starbulletin.com/2008/07/11/business/engle.html
    http://www.midweek.com/content/columns/brt_article/the_art_of_hospitality/
    * After getting blog up and running, we turned Robin on to Twitter (@robingraf) and he’s finding his voice in this space. He’s been able to connect with potential guests and generate business revenue and relationships for his hotel. He’s also been able to further promote his blog through this medium.
    * Podcamp Hawaii – to show the hotel’s commitment to social media, The Wyland Waikiki became the host hotel for our first Podcamp and Wordcamp Hawaii unconference in October. It’s sponsorship helped raise the profile among the social media community here at home.
    * The future? We’re now looking at incorporating video, photosharing, and utilizing other mediums like Facebook to continue reaching out to friends and potential guests of The Wyland Waikiki.
    Needless to say, this has been an interesting case study for us which proves that social media can help clients and MUST be a part of the public relations toolbox.
    Mahalo (thank you) for allowing me to comment.
    Aloha,
    Nathan

  3. I’ll be a casual observer of Dave’s speech in Denver as I, too, am a speaker. He certainly is free to comment on my presentation, which will deal with the fundamentals (old school?) of public relations – storytelling. Whether you’re a blogger or a Big M media type, you still want to tell a captivating story. My hope is that PR folks still hold the keys to a good story.
    Denis

  4. As you know we have a regional PR agency here in Colorado. PR is communication. Social Media is a new form of communication. We have added podcasting and video to the toolbox. We are pulling our clients into blogging. (most are worried about the time commitment or don’t feel comfortable writing.)
    All the basics still apply. What is the message? Position your brand and focus on the target audience. Transmit the value and deliver. Encourage feedback and act on it.The main stream media has great reach and cannot be left out of the mix. I don’t believe it is one or the other but using all channels to “tell the story”.

  5. HHHmmm – surely this is the wrong question.. as it’s been the wrong question the myriad other times it’s been asked…(“has radio killed the press?” “has TV killed radio?”, “Has direct mail killed TV?” “Has the web kill direct mail?” and on and on.)
    The answer now is surely the same as it’s always been – No. With the possible exception of the town-crier, Communication channels rarely die – they simply learn to co-exist with the new channels that society or technology spawns, with their own loyal users who use them for reasons known only to themselves. Every generation (quite pridefully) thinks that they’ve witnessed/invented the ultimate channel, only to see it superseded by the next innnovation. Blogging will fade – and fairly soon I think – A BBC interview this morning cited a journalist who believes that blogging is analogous to “monkeys with keyboards” (his words not mine) and he makes a good point – just because everyone now has a platform to share their opinions doesn’t mean everyone is worth listening to. Today, Blogging has that novelty value that propels all new channels at their inception, but history shows it will burn bright for a short season and then diminish, taking it’s place in the ecosystem of channels that peacefully co-exist. Apart from the town crier. He’s gone.

  6. Here’s what too much of the PR industry hasn’t figured out yet: the world is not waiting for those of us in PR to start the conversation. The conversation is already going on. The key to effective PR is understanding how to truly add value to the conversation. Is the conversation talking about your (or your client’s) product or service? Maybe not. Our job needs to be to find related things and augment and enhance what’s happening. If we continue think in targeting and positioning mode, we’ll be tuned out more and more.
    Think about walking into a cocktail party and joining a group of people talking about cooking. How effective is it to walk up and say “that’s interesting, but I’d like to talk about how much I like my new car…” You’d soon be avoided by the others. Too much of of PR and marketing takes that approach. If you’d like to talk about your car, either find an opening or wait to be invited — or find people talking about cars! The “barge-in” scenario doesn’t work face to face or online.
    Knock ’em dead at PRSA, Dave!
    Doyle
    http://www.metzgerblog.com

  7. I hardly think it’s a matter of PR being dead and social media being here to stay. Rather, I’d say it’s more accurate to say that PR and social media are dancing the light fandango and getting along quite nicely. My blog is all about social media and PR going together like PB&J. And if that’s not enough, what about the recent PRSA international conference focusing about 75% on social media? Our local chapter of PRSA is hosting a mixer next week for PR folks and bloggers and these types of events are going on all around the globe. PR and social media are both alive and well, thanks very much!

  8. Dave,
    Working for a PR agency that incorporates social media into many of our campaigns, I would argue that rather than killing PR, social media is forcing it to evolve. Depending on how you view it, I suppose it could be a good or bad thing; we view it as good.
    For the right organizations with the right cultures, social media adds considerably to the toolkits at our disposal. Then again, for other organizations social media tools may not be appropriate (yet) – in the same way that we don’t recommend media events or press releases for every initiative, we don’t recommend social media for every client.
    Also remember that PR is much broader than just publicity – a fact forgotten by pretty much every blogger who writes about the ‘death of PR.’ Issues management, stakeholder communications and so on continue to be critical functions.
    Cheers,
    Dave

  9. Hi Dave,
    I’m doing straight-ahead, old fashioned PR for one of my favorite clients, SolarCity, the largest residential solar panel installer in California. I pitch print reporters with newsworthy angles–and juicy photos opps–and have landed SolarCity in almost every major newspaper in Southern California (my region for the company), plus in Time Mag, Forbes, and lots of other media, online included. SolarCity’s marketing records last month showed that PR generated more sales leads than any other category, advertising included. I’m a former newspaper reporter myself, so I agree that knowing what makes news and what doesn’t is key. Writing good don’t hurt, neither.

  10. i have a better idea. why don’t you ask 10 people (ceos, marketing folks, etc. – preferably from the so-called web 2.0. world) therein lies the problem and a great place to start your talk. blogging and social media is a tool for the smart pr practioner not the death.

  11. Many PR pros I know are championing social media use. Strategy, monitoring, set-up, advising: these are but three functions that new age publicity professionals are quickly adopting.
    Making intuitive leaps, uncovering connections, and building relationships are also character traits of many who choose the PR field. These traits can make for an excellent social media strategist and/or practitioner.
    Far from dead. Evolving is more like it!
    (Enjoy your time talking with the PRSA. I presented to the PRSA’s Midwest Annual Conf in September — topic Social Media — what a terrific audience! I also followed the Twitter backchannel at the Annual PRSA Convention in Detroit last month #PRSA08 — social media was definitely the hottest topic in Motown.)

  12. Hi Dave,
    PR’s definitely not dead, but we practitioners need to reinvent ourselves. Me? I’m doing Podcasts and Webcasts for my travel clients, because press release distribution is not enough. We must think about new paradigms, now, generating publicity through social and web-based media opportunities.
    Maris Somerville

  13. Is PR dead? Absolutely. So is advertising and direct mail. In fact, any traditional labeling of how companies and people communicate is dead. Consumer-driven media channels are so fragmented that the old agency concept of “process” represents a sure-fire way to get fired from an account. No longer can you make a primetime media buy with Fred Flintsone smoking a Winston cigarette (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gDamNtQpu2w) and guarantee a captive audience of millions (1/3 of the total American primetime viewing audience in the 1960s).
    How outdated is the concept of “PR” or “advertising”? Consider this: Forty years ago every major corporation had a fully staffed “telephone department” that was responsible for all training and installation. Today, we still use “telephones,” but obviously in a completely different format and application. The same is true today for the old labels of “PR” and “advertising.”
    Consumers drive how they want to receive information, and the media/communication platform must match that drive, or else your budget is both wasted and unmeasurable in terms of results. You might get lucky, but relying on luck in a recession represents a high-risk proposition.
    How are major brands like Macy’s and the Federated Group dealing with this? Follow this link: http://www.mekgrp.com/whitepaper_I.html
    At MEK, we don’t talk about process or channels any more. We look to matching the human dynamic that is driving change and consumer or B2B preferences. More info: http://www.themekgroup.com/mek_dynamic.html
    PR as it is currently labeled is definitely dead. A new form of PR has already emerged, but we don’t what to label it yet. It’s time to turn off the labeling machine and figure out what communication platforms work in a mix that achieves measurable results!

  14. PR is not dead because traditional journalists aren’t dead. Bloggers, largely, don’t have the resources to compete with traditional journalists or publications.
    Bloggers, while they “break” SOME news, are largely commenting on news/stories reported by traditional outlets or offering their opinion. They aren’t searching out and doing research as that would demand a full time job (for the most part).
    As traditional media moves to the internet and has their own blogs where they have resources, time and money to conduct proper stories, it will make the current amateur blog world even less relevant.
    Most importantly, while they’ve gained tremendously, even the most popular blogs reach no where near the amount of people that traditional media does.
    Even more, while there are blogs under every topic there are so many traditional business industries where blogging has not even made an impact at all. What are the most popular blogs? politics, tech, entertainment and that’s about it.
    Social media, in many ways, is its own worst enemy. The mere fact that everyone can participate lessens the impact that it has. If everyone starts a topic on “Is PR Dead?” this thread will have little relevance.
    To stick on topic, if you think “PR” is just talking to the media, someone is very shallow or very uneducated in the field.
    In my world of PR, media relations is a SMALL part. Industry relations, government relations, investor relations, internal communications, trade shows, copywriting, messaging and so much more go into it. PR doesn’t = media only (for some). If it does, you are already selling your profession short.
    Bloggers get 20,000 people to their site a month and think they have some sort of voice. The problem is, largely, it is the same 20,000 people so their voice is so narrow.
    Social media is a discussion group. It is the cocktail party of the 21st century, nothing more. Sure we may find out some “news” but largely we are discussing something we already know.

  15. I’ve been in business since February and most of my PR has been through bloggers which has produced a majority of my sales. On occasion they’ll ask for a sample in exchange for a review. From this exposure it has been leverage to get into magazines. I do ALL of my own PR and it hasn’t cost me a penny.

  16. I don’t think PR is dead – in fact now is just a beginning of a new era, what PR people need to learn is how to work together with bloggers in their advantage, and understand that building a community and personal relationships is the key to PR success and focusing in quality is better than focusing on quantity. Blogs offer a new and more authentic way to do PR.
    I am a PR & Social Media Marketing Consultant, but also a retailer. I sell upscale children’s clothing and celebrities and what their children wear are the biggest influencers in that type of products. I was able to get a product sent to Tom Cruise’s daughter Suri past winter and Tom Cruise endorsed the product from my store on Oprah show. The “old school” PR person in me wanted to send out press releases, but as of today, I still haven’t sent out even one press release of the event.
    I used my network, my online community and “my people” to promote the event and share the story. I didn’t ask anyone to promote the product, nor buy the product, I didn’t even tell how many other products I sell that other celebrity kids use.
    What I did – I told a story others were able to relate (I’m a mompreneur and this happened to me – it can happen to you too) and shared the media attention spotlight with others (gave the product for free for bloggers to give away for their readers). Over 50 blogs wrote about it within 2 weeks, and the story was also published in several magazines, including one from Australia, and in a children’s apparel trade magazine. I did a large scale promotion of this particular product, and the only money I spent was giving a few free products, which retail 29 bucks. I have sold over 10 times more of this product in the past 6 months than I had sold it the past 1,5 years before that.
    You may say that it’s the “Oprah’s touch” – but the fact is that the product was not mentioned by it’s name nor my store was mentioned by name in the show. The product got in, but the fact that everyone now knows I personally sent the product for them was entirely up to me to let everyone know. And now they do, thanks to social media marketing and amazing network of bloggers who I already had a personal relationship with.

  17. PR isn’t dead. Good PR people are essentially storytellers and it doesn’t really matter whether you are telling the story in a newspaper, on the nightly news, on a blog, social networking site or via podcast. The methodology is changing and PR professionals have to figure out how to tell stories in all these new ways. Story is story and a PR person either has these instincts or he or she doesn’t. If you tell the story right, people will read, watch, pause, listen. The challenge these days knowing the best way to do this.

  18. It’s dead.
    There is now simply too much noise for an effective public relations campaign. A good product, on its own merits, can succeed, but not without a ton of money to advertise and spread person to person.

  19. PR dead? Just because of social networking? Hell, no. Good old-fashioned ground war PR is as alive and well as old-fashioned ground war politics. That’s the lesson of the election, not Obama’s conquest of the blogosphere. Obama won because he put more boots on the right turf and more knuckles on the right doors, and because people talked to people. Sure, the blogs and social networks pulled those forces together, but it was the tired feet and the sore hands that got it done, just like in the old days.
    PR still works at that level too. Journalists still want what they wanted 30 years ago, when I was a TV reporter — a good local story that impacts their audience. I’m pitching for a medical device company, and I’m not using social networking or blogs. I’m using that old-fashioned telephone and newfangled e-mail to tell local reporters that local physicians are using this device to make life better for people who are watching their newscast and reading their paper. The reporters report, the phones light up, the doctor gets new patients the next day and the company sells them more devices. PR. Revenue. Simple.
    Certainly, social media offers a whole new racetrack, but what gets you to the finish line first is still the same combination of cojones and internal combustion. So no, PR ain’t dead by a long shot.

  20. Me again… I had to come back and comment on Jim’s comment:
    “Bloggers get 20,000 people to their site a month and think they have some sort of voice. The problem is, largely, it is the same 20,000 people so their voice is so narrow.”
    The whole point is that the 20,000 readers are loyal and believe in what they read. This is why many PR people fail to see the influence of bloggers. The blogger might have only 500 readers a day, but the blogger is their trusted authority – the reader believes in the blogger’s word versus what she/he would read from a newspaper written by a reporter they don’t know. The reader has developed a relationship with the blogger, knows the writer’s values.
    Like said, I am also a retailer – I had big websites and magazines mentioning my children’s store and products, however I got the most sales from blogs, by mommy bloggers writing about my products. Their readers had been reading their blogs for months or years, and they knew the blogger, what were her values and what kind of products she had been recommending before. The bloggers with “narrow voice”, with loyal readership are any company’s best way to do PR. They are not biased by advertising dollars like many print media is, they are just providing their honest opinions. They are golden in the new era of PR.
    Also by Jim:
    “Social media is a discussion group. It is the cocktail party of the 21st century, nothing more. Sure we may find out some “news” but largely we are discussing something we already know. ”
    I have found all my consulting clients on Twitter. Found vendors on Facebook. Sold products via my blogs. Scheduled 90% of my business meetings via direct messages on social media sites. When I look for something, I don’t use google. I ask from my “discussion group”, from my people. I trust their answer more than what google would tell me. After all, the people in my cocktail party know me better than google does.

  21. Social media is another vehicle for PR people, that’s it. It actually has made our job more relevant IMO.
    Who’s sending out tweets for companies? Who’s writing and posting blogs for a company or about a company’s products or industry? Who’s building and maintaining a facebook page for companies.
    PR people! Sure you are seeing a bunch of people just concentrating in social media, but increasingly social media is just part of a well rounded campaign. Social media is just (NOT MORE) important than getting a client in an industry trade magazine or in the Chicago Tribune.
    The great thing about social media for PR folks, is that anybody can participate, anyone can drive people, PR people can focus on driving social media all day for one client, anyone can put up fake blog posts, create fake e-mail addresses on social media to benefit a company (THAT last part was a joke.. sort of).

  22. Funny timing. Just this morning we found out our PR agency won an award for a campaign that relied heavily on outreach to bloggers and social media.
    Like any industry, some will sit and watch their cheese be moved; others will follow it.

  23. Did social media/internet kill the PR star? I don’t think so. PR isn’t so much dead as evolved to encompass so many different things. If you thought PR was just traditional media relations, than yes, PR, defined as such would be dead. Good PR is social networking, Web 2.0, media relations, community relations, employee relations, the list goes on and on and on — DKL

  24. Here is a GalleyCat story from July:
    Web Makes Bugliosi a Bestseller
    The New York Times reported this week on Vincent Bugliosi’s controversial book, The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder, and how it has become a bestseller largely due to an aggressive Internet campaign. The TV shows and book reviewers that helped to make Bugliosi’s previous books bestsellers passed on this one. Even mainstream advertisers passed.
    ABC Radio refused to accept an advertisement for the book during the Don Imus show, said Roger Cooper, the publisher of Vanguard Press, which put out the book.
    Behind this successful Internet marketing campaign is Fauzia Burke and FSB Associates, the company she started thirteen years ago. “They truly helped turn this controversial and provocative book into a grassroots bestseller with their terrific Internet marketing campaign,” according to Vanguard Press Publisher Roger Cooper. “One of the major reasons The Prosecution of George W. Bush has made it on to The New York Times Bestseller (and five others) without any print ads or major media coverage is because of the passion, innovation and creative energy of FSB Associates.”
    “The Bugliosi book proves that web publicity is now able to make a book a bestseller, even when more traditional media outreach falls short,” shares Fauzia Burke. “It would have been tough to get the amount of coverage we did if we weren’t constantly working with the bloggers and building relationships. We strategically used three short excerpts to pepper the Web with content from the book throughout the two month campaign. And the progressive bloggers who supported this book were key in creating a virtual word of mouth marketing campaign.

  25. Public relations isn’t just getting ink printed on dead wood. It’s about creating relationships with the people you depend on for success. Social media is just one more piece for the PR toolkit.

  26. PR isn’t dead. For every social media success story there are 5,000 failures because not every industry has a social media voice or more importantly a following and it just isn’t relevant to many businesses.
    What is a company that die casts materials for airplane bearings going to get from social media? Those specialized businesses are very important and a very part of the economy.
    Consumer goods, books, politics, entertainment, some consumer/business services may be able to implement Internet marketing (that’s where I see social media falling), but there are thousands upon thousands of industry where social media has no play. Nothing against social media. In the same vein, the businesses I’m talking about won’t benefit from being a guest on a radio show.
    So, social media is a tool that marketers (PR people, whatever) should use if their product has potential and fits. Not every product fits every marketing medium and trying to make it fit is a waste of time and resources.

  27. Instead of killing PR, web-based and social media has expanded the role of publicists and presents us with more (and, sometimes, better) opportunities than ever before. With proper research and targeted outreach, PR professionals can have significant impact on influential online communities–which builds buzz and often leads to print exposure in a more organic way.
    NJFPR, for example, represents The Pod Hotel in Manhattan, which is aimed at younger travelers and offers pod-like rooms with high-tech amenities starting at $89/night. We honed in on web-based outlets, garnering coverage in a blend of niche (Gay.com, GeekSugar, Thrillist, TravelPost, Destination Anywhere, Business Travel Logue, etc.) and high-profile outlets (AOL, Style.com, UrbanDaddy, Concierge.com, Gridskipper.com, Gadling, and more).
    We were also instrumental in the introduction of The Pod’s Community Blog: a customized message board exclusively for those with active reservations at the hotel. It allows guests to interact with one another as well as ask questions or make requests before and during their stay. Visitors to the blog can also access the “Survival Guide,” a comprehensive listing of affordable activities (free events, cheap eats, BYOB restaurants, happy hours, sample sales) that’s updated daily by the hotel’s concierge.
    This overall strategy encourages an open conversation with guests, and also nets more web traffic than with traditional media. The property credits the strategy with a 300 percent growth in Web traffic; additionally, 50 percent of the hotel’s bookings are made online–an unusually high figure in the hotel industry. The Pod has enjoyed a consistent occupancy rate of 93 percent or higher, and has become the preferred hotel for stylish spendthrift travelers. All this for a relatively cost–and no advertising.

  28. I’ve written five books about public relations (among 17), including the biography of Arthur W. Page, regarded as perhaps the most influential practitioner of the 20th century. I also taught the subject in the journalism schools at the Universities of Wisconsin and Georgia.
    As for Arthur Page, the New York Times recently carried an op-ed piece arguing that all public relations philosophy boils down to Arthur Page vs. Edward L. Bernays.
    Page among other things was the public relations vice president of AT&T from 1927 through 1946, at a time when AT&T was America’s largest corporation, and when one out of every 100 gainfully employed Americans worked for the Bell System. He regarded employees as the most important public of AT&T because the employees personally interfaced through their jobs and their lives in their local community with the rest of AT&T publics. And when you stop to think of the number of face-to-face contacts Bell system employees had annually – operators talking to callers, installer-repairmen talking to customers, commercial reps taking orders from residential and business customers – the employees were a marvelous interpersonal megaphone.
    Sure, impersonal Internet contacts are important today, but those contacts lack the richness of communication that occurs when people talk to one another face to face. Most of the informational content of a message – more than 90 percent, in some studies – is not in words, but in the body language and inflection which are for the most part missing in Web communication.
    That’s not to say Internet contacts are irrelevant. They are not. Prior to the Internet, I put out 100 or so news releases a year aimed at mass media placements. I still do that – but I have also developed systems that permit me to place the same material on 100 to 200 influential Web sites at the same time.
    Noel L. Griese, APR
    CEO, Anvil Associates/Anvil Brokers/Anvil Publishers, Inc.
    Atlanta

  29. Do any older PR people see the parallel between journalists/media and bloggers/social media in attitude?
    Something like “we are the voice, we are the gatekeepers, everybody and everything is influenced through and by us, we don’t need or have a use for PR people”
    It isn’t PR people vs blogger/social media or PR people vs media.
    It IS media vs bloggers/social media. Neither is going anywhere anytime soon, and PR people get to sit in the middle and pick and choose where to try to implement a strategy.
    If bloggers/social media and journalists were locked in the same room…(add your own joke)
    PR people, let them have their pompous attitudes. It is something we are used to. Traditional and social media get the satisfaction of power trips.
    Social media and traditional media are outlets. WE are the keepers of information (except for breaking news). WE always provide information about products, companies and product releases. That won’t change.
    Smart bloggers and influencers have already learned what the smart traditional media knows: PR people can be your best friend in the world, they are the real keepers of information and news. We use social media and traditional media to spread our news as we see fit.

  30. As taken from the President’s Column, PRSA Portland-metro chapter newsletter:
    Putting the Social into Media: PR’s Potential as a Star Player
    The brave new world of social media is certainly sparking interesting dialogue -a fact that was again brought home to me during a recent two-day WebGuild conference in San Francisco, completely dedicated to the topic.
    The most interesting discussion was where social media initiatives ought to be based within companies and agencies. I found it amazing that PR didn’t come up more often as being essential to sparking the effort and driving the conversation.
    Certainly, the very definition of PR -“relating to publics”- is at the heart of social media strategies. To ensure content is designed to engage, attract and inform, rather than to push an advertising message; to be authentic and to put yourself in the shoes of the audience; to listen and respond accordingly – none of this is new for PR. These are the very things this industry has always revolved around. And certainly corporate responsibility, issue and crisis communication best practices and community relations directly relate to solid PR and ultimately, social media strategies.
    It’s a major opportunity, but it was reinforced to me that PR is still not considered the game changer when it comes to social media quite yet. So why aren’t more PR pros leading the charge (and worst case, perhaps not even participating) when it’s clear that this is where communication is quickly heading? Is it unfamiliarity with the latest tools? A fear of breaking with tried-and-true methods even though we see the evidence of traditional media being reshaped all around us? Is it a wait-and-see approach until there’s more proof on whether these new ideas really have merit?
    Share with us what you think this chapter could do to provide more resources, training or insight into social media strategies and practices. And in the spirit of being forthright ourselves, there’s no doubt that there’s plenty of work that needs to be done within the local chapter when it comes to putting more social into our community. This is where we could really use your help. If you are interested in being part of a chapter think tank devoted to helping drive our group’s social media initiatives forward, please nudge me.
    After all, there is no one better qualified to help inspire, shape and influence our very own community than PRSA pros themselves.

  31. Hey Dave,
    Jennifer LeClaire here… hope all is well. I think PR is more essential in down economies than ever — consistent PR that is. You already know that PR is much less expensive than advertising. You also know that you don’t usually generate publicity over night. And you know that small- to mid-sized businesses have perhaps the toughest road because there’s not much between do-it-yourself and full-service agencies.
    We just launched ConsistentReach.com to change all that. Check it out and let me know if you think it’s a fit. This is a fully managed monthly press release service that helps SMBs get in the news and stay there for a song. They get a PR strategist, a writer, editor and premium wire distribution, as well as a handful of value-added services, like lead generation, social media help, media coaching etc.
    Thanks, Dave. Hope to talk to you soon.
    Jennifer LeClaire

  32. Hi Dave,
    PR is alive, PR is growing, PR is now larger than ever.
    PR is now done by all of us in our blogs, social networks, friends, relatives and other connections. Now more than ever, our reach is not just our family and best friends. A good post can be read by 10,000, even 100,000 people.
    Jorge Olson
    Unselfish Promotion

  33. Dave –
    I’m here via HARO, which I must say has been eye opening. Seeing the back and forth between the PR world and the world of journalism, and figuring out which kinds of ritualized behavior are expected of both sides – remarkable.
    Journalism is dead (or at least some of it is on the floor dying bleeding red ink). Blogging is dead, says The Economist (no one reads them any more). So why shouldn’t PR be dead too? A lot of the HARO ritual is about telling a good story, asking clearly for help, getting the word out, and figuring out who can be connected with who. The professional identity you construct around those skills is not dead (even if it might not be called PR anymore).

  34. I always hate when I chime in late on a subject.
    Funny query Dave, I believe this is the same topic that got me rattled years ago – and how we met in the first place.
    Is PR dead, YES � traditional PR is dead. But it isn’t a PR vs. Blogger War. While the vultures are out hovering and waiting for opportunities to present themselves, the rest of us are creating opportunities, getting involved in the conversation and actually creating content. PR is finally a profession where we can bring value and not just talk about all the �media relationships� we have (which was always such a bogus claim anyway).
    Guy Kawasaki has always talked about the �killer instinct� those that have it, win. The killer instinct is crucial for delivering smart PR and for getting the instant satisfaction for both our clients but also the end-users or consumers that actually care. You have to be nimble, accept change, make course corrections and not be afraid to say, “that didn’t work, let’s try something else.” No longer can we wait for the big article to make a difference, to drive leads and increase page views for a client. VCs are telling their portfolio companies to get lean, to be smart and if it doesn�t work, kill it. Drawn out campaigns just don�t cut it anymore. We are in a time where every minute counts. Press releases are not enough and are often a means to an end.
    To quote you, Mr. Dave Taylor, findability is everything. If you aren�t a part of the conversation, no one will find you. If no one is talking about you, you are talking to yourself.
    In my own experience, the traditional methods are not working. Go ahead and pitch a target list of media and see how many responses you get back. More than likely, you will have an inbox filled with bounce backs. Sitting and waiting for interest is death and can be frustrating. We need to create more focus, focus on the handful of media who count and have a conversation.
    If we don�t take this moment in time to help our clients understand this, we don�t deserve to be in PR. I have always believed that it is an honor to do what we do and it is up to us to inform our clients that the PR plans of yesterday need to be tossed out. Media efforts are just a channel in the program overall. New elements must be considered i.e. customer evangelist programs, community, blog, analyst, event etc.
    Today�s PR is uncomfortable; it happens at weird times of the day, it demands that PR professionals find those people that are being listened to versus relying on a list of beat reporters.
    Today�s practice includes aggregated feeds, Twitter search and a Stumble here and there. If we aren�t a part of the discussion, a part of bringing the media closer to the users, we are just in the way.
    The evangelists are the users, the users are the media.
    I have to admit that it has been a while since I have heard a client ask for an article above the fold. Clients are catching on that news is no longer tied to a specific timeframe and that a large majority of audiences today are looking at their peers, asking questions in forums and turning to Google to find the news that is most relevant to their interests.
    Not to say that an �above the fold� article wouldn�t also be nice but the approach to getting there has changed.
    What has changed?
    It used to be that PR served as a broker of an idea, now PR pros must insert themselves into the conversation. No longer can you hide behind a client/brand.
    I think social media will definitely scare some professionals away and actually we could use a bit of a shake up. Today’s PR is not for the faint of heart and is more competitive than ever. A time when business hours no longer apply and presence has taken on a new form through shared sites like Flickr and Ustream. Where the influencers have changed from Walt Mossberg to a community of teens online. We no longer just turn on the TV or open a paper to get our news. The true “PR mavericks” 🙂 are closely watching their Tweetdecks, listening to the customer, checking their live bookmarks relentlessly and presenting a message that is more important to the user versus just pushing a canned message that fits the bill for the client.
    If anything, I say thank god social media, new media or whatever label you pick has taken center stage. PR is moving closer to becoming commoditized if we don�t evolve. Just as radio, TV and Internet have changed the way we communicate and push a message; this is just another moment in time that will separate the pros from the generalists.
    An example that I think is worthy of talking about.
    At a recent DEMO conference, I worked closely with MessageSling, a client set to hit the stage and present their company to the world for the first time. We knew that media and VCs were in attendance so rather than worry about the pithy phrases or creating a new category for the launch, we focused more on creating an interesting presentation that would get people talking on Twitter. Prior to the launch event, Robert Scoble had made a post that all of the companies presenting at DEMO had poor web sites and were uninteresting. The post drew huge criticism from the entrepreneurial tech community. We decided to incorporate his statements in our presentation knowing that we had an active audience on Twitter and that people would be compelled to post comments on the mention. The result was huge. The comments about our presentation were being discussed between audiences at DEMO and TechCrunch and because of the subject in the posts; we drew attention from a large audience of users who were not even present at the event. The company�s beta users tripled in a matter of minutes and all while we were still sitting in the conference. This effort was successful because there was an active conversation that was taking place on that very day. We took the most important day in this company�s lifetime and rather than focusing specifically on a corporate presentation, we used the company�s demo of its voice to text messaging technology as a way to get involved in the conversation and the interest followed.

  35. I don’t think PR is dead and that blogs killed it. PR is a function, an activity and a profession. Blogs are a tool and a hobby. One can’t really compare both. PR goes way beyond blogging (or twittering, etc.). First, because, if you are running a real business, you can’t ignore the massive percentage of the population that never reads blogs. And, outside of IT, that’s pretty much everyone. Second, because PR people use blogs just like everybody else. If they are good at their job (and believe me, some of us are really good at this), their blogs will look professional, interesting, value adding and so on. If they are crap (and yes, a lot of us are also pretty bad at this), their blogs will look bad. There is no contradiction or even opposition here. There is only the fact that blogs have given a mean to reach more people to everyone. PR and others alike. PR people can show their skill by just being better at it…

  36. Is PR dead? Travelwriter and columnist Janet Groene says it’s more essential than ever in a time when anyone can blather anything to anyone. “I look for solid, authoritative sources that can give me reliable scoop,” affirms Groene (GRAYnee). “As a long-lead writer, I am especially reliant on PR professionals because they understand the importance of getting material to me three or four months in advance.”

  37. Dave … Since I’m way too busy executing both traditional and Web 2.0 PR initiatives for my clients, I didn’t have time to read all of the posts on your blog. Therefore I don’t know if mine is new or redundant information. These two subjects are not only NOT mutually exclusive, they are actually hyper-connected.
    We deal in communication, and blogs are a channel through which messages are transmitted. They are, of course, increasing in both relevance and usage when compared with more traditional channels, but they are a channel nonetheless. Our business depends on a simple dynamic of establishing messages, identifying audiences and then selecting channels through which to reach those audiences with those messages.
    Blogs won’t replace PR. Blogs will make PR more effective and efficient. Hope this helps.
    Bud Brewer

  38. PR is alive and well and there’s never been a better time to specialze in it. The only thing that has changed in the name and the format: it’s now called “online reputation management,” “SEO,” and “social news site promotion.”

  39. For as long as media exists and “press coverage” is valued, PR will never die.
    Smart marketers understand that proven PR practices – well planned and executed – give them unfair advantage over competitors. If you can leverage proven PR strategies to trounce your competitors and make your company, products and people more relevant in the marketplace than their’s, then PR is golden.
    Clueless marketers buy into the “PR is dead” hype and believe they can “converse” their way to a better alternative to PR. It’s simply not true and anyone promoting such fallacious thinking is doing a disservice to their audience. Yes, conversational marketing is important, but it’s only one arrow in a marketer’s quiver.
    Our firm has had great success applying proven PR practices (planning, targeting, story packaging, staging, execution) to integrated campaigns spanning traditional and new media.
    Mark Coker
    Founder
    Dovetail Public Relations
    Los Gatos, CA
    http://www.dovetailpr.com

  40. PR is alive but its dying. One day your campaign is everywhere then the next day its gone, its old news, Jay Conrad Levinson says that best. A good blog post stays around for ever. Of course PR can be great for any business, but if you have to choose one or two methods of marketing PR should be the last thing on your list.

  41. PR is how we launched and keeps our nonprofit growing. We are small and do not have a lot of time to maintain a blog. We realize the importance and ask our volunteers to join and reply to various animal blogs about pets of the homeless.

  42. Hi Dave,
    Great question. And certainly more complex than just a simple yes or no answer. I’ve been doing PR for about 12 years or so — first in tech, now in energy. I believe PR in the tech world has changed immensely in the last 12 years. Social media and blogs have emerged as a channel for sharing news/telling stories in the tech world. I do believe PR has lost some relevance in the tech world, but is adapting or trying to adapt to the changing world. For example, face-face-to-face press tours and traditional deskside briefings we used to do 12 years ago are likely a thing of the past. However, outside the tech world, traditional PR is still a mainstay. Government, nonprofit and energy sectors tend to be the slowest to change and adapt to new technologies and and tools. Sure, there are energy/nonprofit/government blogs, but for the most part these industries rely on tried and true PR strategies and tactics to interact with the press, tell their story, etc.
    The PR world is changing, no doubt. But i beleive it’s better assessed on an industry-by-industry basis rather than looking at PR generically since — in some industries — I believe the value of PR has diminished while in others it remains as relevant as ever.
    Hope that helps.
    Cheers.

  43. Is PR dead? No. PR is more important today than ever. With each new communication vehicle introduced, the potential to reach audiences increases, and with online word-of-mouth, it is much easier to track and manage corporate reputation and to join the collective conversation.
    It is an exciting time to be in public relations, and the field will continue to grow as new technologies are discovered that will allow conversations to continue on a global scale. It is our job, as PR practitioners, to keep up with these changes in order for public relations to remain relevant.

  44. 1) Media (new or old) relations is one facet of PR. Look at any PR firms list of services and you’ll find probably 30 services listed.
    2) If you want to refer to PR just in media relations terms their job is as relevant as ever. I look to my PR firm to conduct online activities as well as traditional.
    3) Some product lines don’t fit in with social media no matter which way you cut it. Consumer products sure do, technology yep. A lot of stuff that is specialized or B2B just doesn’t.
    There are great new media success stories, but I’ve seen this echoed a few times, there are many more failure stories.
    I personally can’t envision a future anytime in the next, say, 50 years where people solely receive information online because the vast majority of people don’t want to sit in front of a computer all day.
    Another thing is that traditional journalism outlets, which have always been slow to adadpt, are just learning how to leverage the power of the blogs and social media. Once they grasp everything with larger budgets, more resources and more time, they will eventually squash some guy in his basement typing his opinion for two hours every night.

  45. Social media is the most authentic, most efficient and quickest way to create interest and pull toward any product, service, event, or activity. As we look at PR, and the important elements (the W’s — who, what, where, when, and why), Social media provides the utility that takes images and words to the marketplace, in an authentic manner. The viral nature of social media, whether it’s through Facebook, or Youtube, creates an explosive opportunity for success, and failure alike.
    If we look at the music industry, a small band by the name of Metalica was largely responsible for shutting down Napster, the free music-sharing system. While the music industry praised Metalica for protecting their music (and according to many– their revenue streams), they suffered a great deal of negative PR, that some would say is just now recovering. Contrast that against new media star, Miley Cyrus, and her recent release of the album Breakout, and the pre-release of her song, “7 Things.” In May of 2008, Radio Disney did the global release of the song, and Miley (and Disney) posted the song on Facebook. Within two days of the release, fans had created over 300 music videos (using various images, video, and pictures — all to the background of her new song 7 things. These 300 self-created, fan based videos had more than one million views — in two days. These fans used illegal pictures, music, and video (one video is a cell phone of the song playing in a car) to promote this new song (and Album). This viral response exploded in a positive manner, and created a momentum that drove significant sales upon the albums release, in the middle of July. According to Billboard Magazine, Breakout, lead the charts for the first month of its release, selling a tremendous number of albums.
    So, is PR dead? No. Do we all need to adjust to todays digitally adept youth? Yes. Authenticity, speed, and passion are the new rules of social media. . . and perhaps of PR.

  46. Dave
    In my experience the cheapest means of PR that is the most effective is business blogging. It not only helps you to create the strong brand and the right opinion about you but it also attracts readers who search for information, it even helps you to create friends or even business partners.
    I have used blogging method for years already and it gave extraordinary results. It even inspired me to write an entire e-book about business blogging “The New Rules of Business Blogs”. You can check it at my blog http://www.positioningstrategy.com
    My blogging success has been so remarkable, that even the PR professional David Meerman Scott in his ground-breaking bestseller The New Rules of Marketing and PR describes my blog as �remarkable�, �true international blogging success story�.
    To conclude, I can tell, that business blogging is the best means to get you known, your business known and it even helps you cherish if used properly. And it costs only your time, and almost no money.

  47. My husband Richard Schave and I have had two notable successes using open source blog-based sites (built on Drupal, the content management system developed for the Howard Dean campaign) that acted as clearing houses for information and helped interested people organize, comment and become involved in causes that they felt passionately about.
    These were issues we cared about personally; we launched the sites because we’d rather do something than bellyache. Each site took under two hours to create, with the only cost registering the URL, adding the site to our existing hosting package, and then devoting time as needed to respond to inquiries from the media and general public.
    The first campaign sought to save the historic orange and blue Union 76 ball signs, which new owner ConocoPhillips was removing from gas stations in favor of flat “tombstone-style” signs in dark red. After a year in which public and media attention was steady and impassioned, and 76 Ball designer Ray Pedersen became a spokesman for his 40+ year old brand, the pressure raised by the Save the 76 Ball site and associated petition resulted in ConocoPhillips admitting they had misjudged public opinion, giving select historic ball signs to museums, and beginning manufacture of new ball signs in the red and blue corporate color scheme. The site is http://www.savethe76ball.com
    The next campaign was an urgent call from users of the Los Angeles Public Library to draw attention to the city’s budget crisis, and plans to close branches, fire librarians, stop buying new books and charge $1 for each interbranch loan. A concerted monthlong effort with a single-button email that went to the City Council’s Budget & Finance Committee, the Mayor and the Library Commision, rallied thousands of citizens and resulted in restoration of all threatened funds–over $3 million. This site is http://www.savelapl.org
    PR’s not dead, but a savvy amateur can now reach the world’s media and foment real change from their kitchen table–provided they have an idea that other people want to get behind, and provide a way for them to tell the powers that be what they think. It’s revolutionary, and great fun.

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