Being a terribly modern communicator, I responded to a LinkedIn comment yesterday which ran under the headline
'Old school PR is dying, but not just because of its continued reliance on old school media'.
The LinkedIn discussion was started in response to a Huffington Post article by Alistair Campbell, he of the Tony Blair days, which looked at how PR needed to evolve, and what many institutions get wrong - and right, cf: The Queen. The claim on LinkedIn was that PR was dying because too many PRs and their clients focused on tactics rather than objectives and strategy.
Clients often come to us for tactical solutions because even though they understand a strategic approach is better, they don't necessarily have buy in or budget higher up the food chain. We do our best to help whilst setting projects and tactical moves in context, and many clients re-visit their approach when they can.
One crucial way this should happen is to join the dots. In this time of stakeholder views being paramount, and the power of social media as Mr Campbell explains, the convergence of internal and external comms is coming to the fore - crisis comms, recruitment, customer service, social media policies - these are all areas where comms should be aligned inside and outside your business. In that sense, good riddance to traditional PR, and yes you could say its dead.
BUT, there is the still the beauty of the great story. Putting reactive PR and customer service aside (now there's a blurring line), traditional PR is alive and well in the publicity sense. We work with a variety of companies who want to raise profile, build reputation and manage their customer interaction, all of which require a blend of the trad and the more modern. Look at the work of Ed Watson and team at Debenhams, following the zeitgeist of fashion and creating campaigns every week. I think we are looking at the reactive, the customer interface, the social so much - which isn't a bad thing in itself - that we are forgetting to discuss, learn, innovate around publicity and trad PR - ie, what makes a good story (based on a good product, of course).
At CorpComms' media relations conference recently, one delegate said to me he felt there was a real gap on the conference circuit around this. Content is after all king, so we still need to look at our role as communicators in getting the party started, creating the story. So maybe it isn't good riddance to traditional PR, more of a 'get with the programme, PR'.
We are looking to offer opportunities to revisit what makes great PR in the coming months through our platform, thefuturestory, so watch this space.