My husband’s grandma, who came from Czechoslovakia as a girl and spoke broken English, used to push open his bedroom door with her walker every Saturday morning and demand, “Mikey! You dead?”
Many of us in Public Relations are facing a similar question: “PR! You dead?”
It seems there is a constant buzz on social media debating the demise of some aspect of marketing. Social media is all about the conversation, so engaging in a lively discussion is expected. But it can be difficult to recognize a valid point from hyperbole.
Such is the case with Public Relations, which is currently rumored to be on the gallows. Since the beginning of time, PR professionals have sent news releases about some aspect of their client’s business to members of the media for use on radio and TV and in print. The media was the conduit through which we reached our targeted audience.
Today social media allows businesses to bypass the news media and go directly to their targeted audience. With this direct pipeline at our disposal, some PR people argue, traditional PR is no longer necessary.
I beg to differ.
In its simplest form, traditional Public Relations gains free media exposure for the client. (Yes, most social media platforms are also free. But wait, there’s more.)
When a newspaper or TV station runs your story, the audience knows it is not paid advertising. This gives the story integrity, something you will not get from posting it on your Facebook page. You will also receive free exposure when the newspaper or TV tweets about your upcoming article.
Self-promotion gets the message across but your story gains credibility when it’s told by someone else.
So I’ll have to respectfully disagree with my constituents. Facebook cannot and will not replace traditional PR – both are essential to telling a client’s story.
To quote Mark Twain (with a little tweaking), “The reports of PR’s death are greatly exaggerated.”