Artisan Marketing Communications offers clients PR and marketing communications advice, practical support and implementation.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

PR is dead! Long live PR!

Tom Cheesewright, managing director of IO Communications, Manchester's premier technology marketing agency, gives his views on how PR is changing and how we need to take note.

PR is half as valuable as it was twenty years ago. Why?

Twenty years ago, PR used to be something that differentiated companies. Actively managing news coverage and creating positive stories was something done by only a few, forward-looking organisations outside the FTSE 100. Today, PR is commoditised. If you have engaged a PR agency, most of your competitors have one too (or soon will).

Secondly, there are more news and information sources out there than ever before. No longer does everyone rely on their daily newspaper or even the 9 o'clock news for their information supply. Now they refer to tens of TV channels, hundreds of magazines, and thousands of websites and blogs. With so many authorities out there, each one has slightly less impact.

Thirdly, journalists are now less influential than they were. Research from Influencer50 suggests that in the early 90s, journalists accounted for 80pc of the external influencers on a buying decision (based on a survey of businesses buying technology). Today that figure is less than 40pc.

Combine these three factors and you would have to conclude that the value of PR has fallen sharply. Except, of course, it hasn't.

The sharp ones amongst you will have noticed that I am not talking about PR, but simply media relations. PR can and should be so much more than that. The tools we use for reaching out to the media and analysts can be turned to other targets, enabling us to engage with other influencers - the peers, competitors, consultants, bloggers, regulators and more who now reach more directly in to our lives and our businesses.

PR people need to raise their game and recognise the value of some of their skills in the changing business environment. Creating compelling content, for example, that can be re-used and re-merchandised not just to influencers but in creative campaigns across the marketing mix.

Networking and interpersonal skills too are a hallmark of good PR people. When a company buys in professional help from a freelancer or agency, it should be like bringing in extra business development staff who can connect them with interesting potential partners or customers.

PR practitioners need to be aware of the impact of technology and market forces on their business, and adjust accordingly to make best use of the skills and resources they have available.

PR isn't really dead, it is just changing. But any practitioner that can't keep up, may well be facing extinction.

3 Comments:

Blogger tom said...

Without wanting to brown-nose, it's worth noting that Rob is a good example of a PR who has adapted to changing demands and technology. He blogs and trades comments with other bloggers for greater reach and influence; he remerchandises media coverage around networking events; and through those networking events provides an element of business development for his clients.

3:25 AM

 
Anonymous Rob Artisan said...

Tom,

It is all true so it is not really sycophantic, in fact much underplayed

The point though is as Tom points out is that ways of sourcing information are changing and we have to change to meet that demand however uncomfortable if we are going to deliver to clients

Rob

3:32 AM

 
Anonymous Jim said...

I agree Rob, PR has changed over the years anyway. Simply saying we do it this way and setting it in stone means people can't take advantage of progress. And like the horse and carriage those sort of firms will simply be die out.

Jim

5:03 AM

 

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