I don’t want to play the semantics game however there are many ways people define public relations or PR. My definition of public relations is a strategic effort to influence public perception. If you define PR this way then no, PR is not dead. If you think of old school PR agencies where people try to get noticed by the big media outlets then yes, the PR star is dead.
While advertising is what you say about yourself, public relations is what you encourage others to say about you or your business. Business public relations is a vibrant and dynamic field because of the huge importance it has in communicating a message to the public. A brands audience of customers, shareholders, communities and employees should all be considered when it comes to PR. Gone are the days of the slimy PR specialist selling you the idea that he/she had contacts in powerful places who could publish information about you and your business to millions. Gone are the days of faxing out to thousands and thousands of publishers such as newspapers, magazines and television stations, hoping to spark some interest. The Internet has brought many new, exciting opportunities for organisations to communicate and therefore it has changed the face of the PR world.
Once upon a time big business was able to influence traditional media outlets with their adverting muscle. It is not likely the media would run a negative story on a brand that is spending millions in advertising dollars with them every year. Now anyone with a computer and Internet can build a blog, have a Twitter and Facebook account and comment to a broad spectrum of the public. Companies now have less control over PR; therefore manipulative techniques once carried out by many public relations specialists are no longer successful. There are very few smoke and mirror strategies businesses can use to cover over bad PR and create good PR. In this day and age of open communication, public relations strategies need to build on credibility and goodwill in the community they operate within.
Business PR tactics now focus on professionalism and ethics. We are living in an era where social responsibility plays a huge role in consumer buying decision-making processes. In marketing and public relations chest beating is out and building a positive reputation and relationship with the public is in.
PR is a field in which many professionals have devoted their lives to. Some have gone to the extent of getting a doctorate in public relations. These specialists must keep up with the latest consumer behaviour in order that they are not left behind. While the old style public relations companies are dying, the new bread of business public relations is growing fast. Online strategies such as blogs, social media, bookmarking and websites in general have in my option, killed old school PR. Large corporations and entrepreneurs may employ public relations specialists to construct and defend their reputation; small businesses must ensure they pay attention to their own public relations. The most important thing is to understand the landscape has changed, instead of investing in ‘PR’ many are changing their focus to developing online strategies.
This content was originally published on Omnific Design before we rebranded as Uplift 360.