Have been following this discussion in which different tech bloggers have been attacking the traditional practice of PR, saying it’s being replaced in many ways by social media. What do you think?
It started back in August with this post from Scobleizer stating “Build PR by building a great service and turn your users into your PR agents.” Then Michael Arrington on Tech Crunch says that PR is broken. “They’re trying to apply the same rules they used when the number of journalists covering their companies was a manageable, chummy lot. Today there’s a whole spectrum of people writing about startups in big media publications, large and small blogs, Twitter, Friendfeed and everything in between.” He was commenting on Steve Rubel’s (Edelman, a PR firm) post in which he poses the question of PR becoming obsolete. He emphasized the need to adapt. Brian Solis defends PR and says it has been in the process of reinvention for over 10 years now.
The blog PRsquared sums things up “Scoble, Rubel and Arrington basically made the point that PR firms are unnecessary if you have a great product and are willing to spend a lot of time engaging in the blogosphere.” And, Scoble himself did a bit of a wrap up on the issue.
OK, so all this was back in August. Why am I talking about it today? BoomTown made a post about appearing on a panel entitled “Is Social Media Killing PR?“.
What’s my take? I definitely think that social media is changing PR, and those who cannot change will be dead in terms of their career. If they view social media as a sideline of PR, a nice extra, then they are missing the boat. They need to engage the features of social media, community, transparency, etc., and let go of this antiquated notion of a tightly controlled and carefully placed message. People are going to be defensive when you tell them their industry is dying or that the ways that they have been successful in the past are no longer relevant. But, the ones who embrace innovation will be defining new standards of success.
Yes, the basics are still necessary, good relationships, excellent writing skills, creativity. But those can be exponentially enhanced by social media. Don’t ignore it.
Jeremiah Owyang, who was on the panel last night, summarizes with some proactive stances the “evolved PR agency” can take.