Public Relations: The next stage

I was at an event last week and a delegate I got chatting with said I should be worried about my business because public relations didn’t have a future – what with Web2.0 and all that.
The same thing was said to me in 2005 at LeWeb3.0 in Paris – I’m still around and doing PR and still thriving. The point is Web2.0 will not kill PR but make it stronger as a communications tool.
PR expertise is now paramount. SEO, social network marketing, Web 2.0 applications and the like have all served to increase - not decrease - the value and demand for high-quality public relations. The reason? PR has always been about the conversation and Web2.0 is all about the conversation.
In fact, thinking about it, is the concept of Web2.0 even relevant anymore? With PR, the problem is all about perception – most people think we just send out press releases and now that print media is in decline, they say PR is on it’s way out as well. They never understood that press releases and published articles are just means to an end. The core of PR has always been about communication skills and strategies - the ability to evaluate the competitive landscape, identify the right messages and effectively and honestly communicate those messages to the right audience – in deadwood media as well as any other media.
The slaggers argue that SEO is a dark art - add a meta tag descriptor here, create a load of keywords and move up the Google ranking. Bollocks! It’s all about content. And who manages the content? PR. And who influences user-generated content? PR.
Meanwhile, the press release remains as important as ever. Even with deadwood media the average 50-year-old hack working on a regional newspaper, or, indeed, a national newspaper, would be completely flummoxed if he received a social media press release with all the bells and whistles of podcasts, videos, links, images and third-party sources.
Remember newspapers, magazines, journals and their online companions have not gone away. They’re online, along with a host of bloggers, freelancers and forum writers that are also writing about you and your company.
This means that PR isn’t going away either. It has just become more complex and more important to a strategic communications plan than ever before. And that’s exciting!

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