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PR as we know it is dead.

It's not a nice title, I know, it makes many people veeeeeeeery uncomfortable. But it had to be said.

I've kept it inside for so long, I just had to get it out: traditional PR is dead.
Actually, it's been dead for quite a while, it's just that we don't really want to face it. Many of us are still in denial, and for those I suggest reading this post called "Sorry PR people, you're blocked" by the editor of Wired magazine. (Do note the major PR firms black listed here...)

PR = press relations.
...And it's with that definition, which is still held as THE correct definition by many agencies and clients alike, that the problems start.

PR is NOT just about press relations (and it never has been).
PR is (and I beg your forgiveness for going back to PR 101 here, but it is necessary) about "the profession of promoting goodwill between an organization or an individual and it's publics, its employees and its customers".

As far as I'm concerned, 'the press' is just one channel we can utilize to help build relationships with our various audiences/publics.

I've never liked doing 'traditional' PR, even though many people - employers and clients alike - have tried to push me in that role. Mass email blasts of a press release which contains really nothing news worthy insults not only my intelligence to write it, but the client's intelligence and most of all, the journalist's intelligence when we dare sell it to them as news worthy. No wonder we're being blocked (even when we send it to the right journalist/editor)!

I firmly believe PR is about informing people, facilitating conversations between a company and it's publics, helping audiences understand what the company stands for, convincing consumers that it's products/services help solve a real, concrete need in their lives. I'm sorry: but are we really still expecting the humble press release to achieve all these goals?

I am often challenged by more 'traditional' PR firms about the recommendations I make to my clients. "You're suggesting a 'Motivate Me' section on their website? A team blog? A pro-active social media plan??? That's not PR!"

Wake up guys! The traditional media (women's mags / daily newspapers / prime time television) are no longer the "endorsers/influencers" the consumer turns to for believable advice. They're listening to recommendations by friends on FaceBook or reading reviews from fellow travellers on TripAdvisor. They're reading the CEO's blog or visiting user forums. They don't have time or attention or energy to waste and the little they have they are dividing very consciously between the topics, activities and people that really interest them. So you still think a press release is going to do the trick?

In the 'new' PR (and I still shudder to use the term 'PR') it's about 3 key things:
- Show them you are real (don't be scared to show you're not perfect!)
- Show them you care (tell them you'll fix what's wrong - and then do!)
- Show them your company is about more than just making money, getting them to 'buy'.

Don't underestimate the intelligence of your consumer - it's the biggest mistake you can make (also see my post '2008 - the year of banishing bullshit).

PR as we knew it is dead. And it's for the best.

PS Incase you're still doubting the view above, also read 'The new PR'
and 'What PR people should know about social media' - a wealth of information on both sites!