Is PR Dead?

I've seen this around on quite a few blogs, including
Intuitive Systems. If your definition of public relations is that it is strictly media relations, then I might be willing to agree that traditional media relations practices are dead and it's a whole new world out there. If what you mean is that PR is about spin and controlling messages, I might want to venture out and agree with you . . . but then, wait for it . . . a recent poll covered in a story by the Washington Times comes out and reveals that half of Americans now say Iraq had weapons of mass destruction when the United States invaded the country in 2003, up from 36% last year. This increase comes despite abundant coverage harpooning this idea in traditional media like the op-ed pages of the Old Gray Lady, international "mainstream media", satirical news media like The Daily Show and The Colbert Report and blogs aplenty. Someone tell the Bush cabal spin is dead.

During my Bachelor of Public Relations at Mount Saint Vincent University we learned from the very beginning that the public relations is the two-way, symmetrical communication between an organization and its publics. If anything, the Internet and its related technologies, the www, blogs, etc., actually create MORE demand for PR. Suddenly, companies that thought they didn't need to connect with the unwashed masses are now, essentially, media companies. In particular, blogs drive home the point that people want to connect with the companies that make the products and services the use or that influence their life. Just ask Kryptonite, the bike lock company what happens when a post in an internet forum tells bikers the company's lock can be jimmied with a Bic pen. Whether they liked it or not - they HEARD from their customers. Gone are the days when you could willfully ignore your publics or tell them they could order their car in any colour they liked as long as it was black.

I have many more such examples, some of which I will talk about in a panel discussion this weekend for the 25th Anniversary of the Bachelor of Public Relations program at MSVU. It should be a very interesting session and a great chance to visit with many of my un-dead, fully employed PR colleagues. More from Halifax later in the week.


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