PR is not dying. Surprised? Probably not, since this is a PR agency’s blog. But, if any number of industry articles over the recent past are to be believed, the PR industry is at risk of becoming obsolete – we don’t adapt fast enough to the digital arena, we still use press releases when no one wants them, we do a lousy job of defining what public relations is (on this one, sadly, I tend to agree, but that’s a subject for another post). The list goes on.
One article in particular sparked a pretty lively email exchange between me and my colleagues Tracy Paden and Holly Grande. Darika Ahrens posits that PR agencies need to “Adapt or Die” and, beyond that, that search/SEO is an area ripe for the picking by PR firms if they would only develop some expertise in the area. I would first admit that yes, PR firms are – in general – lacking a leadership position in digital. That hurts all of us, even those of us who have been working in the space for quite a while. But digital expertise isn’t the key to long term success for PR. In fact, what makes PR even more viable today than ever before is its ability to connect the dots: online to offline, earned to owned media, IRL (In Real Life) to Facebook fans.
Long before the Internet or the Social Web, PR demonstrated true value in making the right connections between a client and its target audience. Today, the channels and the processes have changed, but not the value. Replacing a PR firm with an internal staff person to “do” your social media updates or pushing out canned press releases to free press release websites doesn’t replace what an agency can do for you.
And what is that, you may ask? Providing strategic, holistic communications counsel. Looking at the bigger picture of what your company or organization is actually trying to accomplish – your business goals –then developing and implementing an integrated program via communications channels to help you reach those goals. An agency can make connections between ALL the places and ways you communicate to give you the greatest chance of success. A digital agency can’t do that.
Putting each piece in a silo – unless you are storing pieces of corn – is a recipe for disaster. Tracy and I have both written about this over the past few weeks, so I won’t go into much more on this. Check out our recent posts here and here if you missed them the first time.
In the meantime, we’ll continue to provide great counsel, and great results, to our clients. This agency thinks PR has a a lot of life left.