6.10.2006

PR is not dead
If I read this one more time I just might scream. But since few people will hear that I'll blog about it instead. If your only notion of public relations is that it is media relations then, yes, we can certainly enter into a discussion about how the Internet and, in particular, blogging has not only changed the rules of engagement it's changed the whole game. I whole heartedly agree that people's ability to gather information through means other than the mass media has changed things - but PR is not exclusively media relations.

PR is the two-way, symmetrical communication between and organization and its publics. With this definition - the advent of the Internet and the blogosphere makes PR more relevant than ever. In fact, traditional manufacturing companies who did nothing more than create the occasional brochure or data sheet for products are now media outlets too. Small example: a few years ago I was producing an interactive media installation at an arts centre and needed to source out electric motors. I did the official thing and called the procurement department with the specifications. While I waited for an answer, I searched for the motors online. I found the manufacturer's web site and was able to determine they had 14 motors in stock in Kentucky or somewhere like that. I was able to find the Canadian distributor and then called to get a sales rep. The rep says - I'll have to check and see if the manufacturer has any in stock. I said: they do. 14 of them. I need 6. In three days I had the motors and the artists were installing them. The procurement department called me back to tell me they couldn't find what I wanted.

PR isn't about hucksterism and smoke and mirrors. It's about being the eyes and ears of an organization and it should function as a strategic management tool. The definition I used for PR is an old standard but there are two aspects that are explicitly relevant to today's Internet driven world. Communication has to be TWO WAY. That's right - many of us PR folks have been talking for a long time about taking in messages not just sending them out. Then comes the symmetrical part - there is equality and parity to the messages coming in and out.

Businesses of all types have been radically affected by the Internet and so too has much PR practice but the essential concept of PR remains the same.

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