Social Media and the PR Evolution

Welcome to the New Age.

Public Relations is an old business. For many years, the PR business has thrived on a familiar formula:

– an event happens (new business, new product news, an event, explanation, need for change in perception)

– a press release is drafted

– the approved release is sent to various media outlets for coverage

– the client is then inserted into the news cycle

It was a business formula that worked. It was simple, a bit time and labor consuming and it relied heavily on details and relationships. PR firms around the world made great business using this model to near perfection.

But times they are a-changin’. Strike that, they’ve changed completely.

Press releases have been typically reserved for certain specific sets of eyes- the press. With the dawn of social media, the press is not necessarily where we get all of our information anymore. In fact, the media can be blamed for much misinformation.

The social exchange of information has been good and bad. Yes, there has been a bevvy of misinformation in the social media stratosphere, but the good is that one can dig only slightly further or allow for a little more time and the truth will ultimately be revealed, to many extents anyway.

The press is still important. There will always be sources and leads that those that are talented in the press to break important news, but now, there are so many more commentators that are available to the public. The public is available to the public, and now they are more informed.

Non-press sources- eyewitnesses, users, experts, the people in the street- are equally as valuable as the information they can share. That’s why PR firms can no longer limit their dealings with the traditional media. PR firms and their clients need to be interactive with their target audience. That is where social media will take the firms that are willing to adapt and change into the new age.

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What is PR, anyway?

We get this question a lot. There is actually lots of confusion from some well established companies that we start working with that seem to confuse public relations with advertising or overall marketing. While PR is a part of the marketing mix, and we certainly don’t want to downplay the importance of advertising in many instances. There is a discernible difference that was penned beautifully by someone whom I read who I can’t remember, but will now steal from:

Advertising is saying how great you are. Public relations is getting someone else to say how great you are.

In our business, our job is to get a credible resource, the media or a thought leader, to vouch for you. In many cases this will build awareness of your business and get your customers the knowledge that you actually exist and that you will indeed serve the needs they need fulfilled in some way, shape or form.

But isn’t this precisely what advertising does? Sometimes.

Advertising can build awareness, but the core principle of advertising is branding. Ads don’t always tell the customer the precise information that PR and other forms of marketing can like where to buy, who else is buying, who is behind the product and other stories that can build a solid relationship between the customer and your business.

We try to be very diligent in understanding your goals and what your business is all about  because we represent your message to the media and ultimately your target audience. Where a lot of PR fails is when the goal is to simply get placements rather than using your message to create a bridge between you and your customers. That’s what good PR is: conveying that message of awareness and detailed understanding.

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