Lately I have been reading a lot of “PR is dying”, “PR is dead” articles because there is also the perception that the media is dying. (There is even a Twitter feed called “The Media is Dying” that catalogs the comings and goings of the media world — mostly the goings.) A lot of people are attributing the perceived coming demise of PR to social networks – why do we need a special group of professionals to deal with traditional media when people are just talking directly to each other on Facebook, MySpace and Twitter.
I’ve been doing a traditional PR project lately that focuses on reaching out to local newspapers – it is part of a larger project that is using lots of different methods to get its message across. I have to admit that my part of the project has been a bit disheartening. I’ve come across far too many missing-in-action reporters over the last few weeks. People who were “there” recently and now they aren’t. The cutbacks are far reaching and if you are following the industry, they come as no surprise.
Meanwhile, I am hearing a strange murmur in the PR industry. A number of people I know have commented on a sense of growing desparation among some old school PR people. You know, “the floggings will continue until morale improves.” Account supervisors berating the team for not producing like they once did. Clients “disappointed” by results. Agency principals concerned with how they are going to keep their businesses running in this kind of environment.
There is a bit of a perfect storm in terms of economic downturn and the rise of social media. But I tend to think PR people are well positioned for this downtown if…and it is a HUGE if…if they are in tune with the prevailing winds.
- Are you measuring the impact of your work?
- Are you setting up programs with concrete goals?
- Do your programs lead to sales?
- Are you using the new tools out there? (For example, are you using social media to connect with reporters? And are you applying good PR practices to this outreach?)
- Are you a good writer who produces worthwhile content?
These are the things that PR people should ask themselves. I recently connected on Twitter with a reporter/blogger who was a good fit for one of my clients. I also personally enjoyed her blog. She was writing on topics that made sense for me and my clients. I reached out to her and she was wonderful to work with. I feel like we connected on a personal level — which is what social media should do — and I was able to deliver to her the contacts in her city that enabled her to write a good story. My client received a good story in the local paper and a nice blog mention too. Everyone wins.
Wouldn’t it be nice if more PR people were able to write such happy little endings to their blog entries?