I can’t tell you the number of times over the past few years that I’ve read articles declaring that ‘PR is dead’. Quite frankly what a load of codswallop. Affirmations like this highlight how some PRs and marketeers have fallen so far from the tree that they’ve lost sight of what our role really is. Whilst technology and the digital landscape has changed the communications channels we use, the job ultimately stays the same. PR will endure because ultimately it is about relationships, trust and human nature.
Let’s go back to PR school basics
PR is and always has been about engaging with target audiences. It is a myth that PR is just media relations; media relations is just one important tool in the PR armory. Over the years, and because the media has for so long been prolific and a trusted source of information, PRs have used media as a channel to communicate messages out to a target audience – particularly in niche industries like insurance. But some PRs have perhaps become too reliant on media relations, and as a result have lost sight of the need to make use of other existing and emerging channels.
Before social media, ‘other channels’ might have included internal communications, direct marketing, corporate hospitality, events …the list is long. These disciplines have always in some capacity lent themselves to PR, and social (SMM) and digital marketing are now on that list. Human nature dictates which are the most relevant channels of the moment to reach our target audiences. It’s about understanding which is the right channel, the right approach and the right message for each audience segment – it is a skill.
Traditional v Digital PR – it’s all the same thing
The term ‘digital’ is over used. You’ll often hear PRs talk about traditional versus digital, or talk about digital and social media as if they are something new and an ‘add-on’ to the usual PR service. They are the SAME thing – they are both part of PR and have been for probably more than a decade now, and they all have value!
As professional PR consultants our role is to understand and evaluate all the channels at our disposal to most effectively communicate and manage our clients’ messages. We’ve always been an industry that has adapted and embraced change. When I first started my career in PR, e-mail was pretty new and we posted press packs and press releases to journalists before even the fax machine became favoured. Now news is delivered in real time using a multi-channel approach.
Long live PR
Spotlight Consulting specialises in PR for the insurance industry, and as the very apt theme for the forthcoming annual #BIBA2018 conference says: Innovate Evolve Thrive!
It has never been tougher for companies to get noticed and get their message out in a world where we are surrounded by white noise. PR can take an unknown company and shine a light on it, raise its profile amongst its target audience, boost credibility and trust, drive sales and ultimately deliver competitive and financial advantage. If we spend too long talking about the death of PR and not actively embracing the changing PR landscape, and then we’re really in trouble. Let’s stop talking about the death of PR and start shouting ‘long live PR’ instead.