For readers who work in or with public relations, I have a question for you. A local agency’s recent declaration that it is no longer a public relation agency raises the question The Who’s Pete Townshend posed in 1978: Who are you?
Are you an “integrated consumer marketer,” as the agency formerly known as “Fast Horse public relations” proclaimed? Are you a reputation manager, or a brand manager? Are you just a good old-fashioned public relations gal or guy? Or are you a Prince-esque glyph? Who, who, who, who?
And what’s this renaming all about? Just an industry refreshing its image with new wordsmithing, or the sign of fundamental change in the industry?
Admittedly, I’m a dinosaur (see obscure Pete Townshend reference). But to me the business hasn’t changed enough to merit a trip to the thesaurus. Whether you’re delivering messages through news stories, trade publications, various types of ads, events, street marketing, websites, podcasts, blogs, vlogs, clogs, or next month’s on-line fad…its still just about persuading people.
Yes, I know the media landscape has changed. People are not consuming nearly as much mainstream media as they used to. They are getting their information from a long and ever-changing list of sources. The gatekeepers of information have changed, and in some media have evaporated. People face a bewildering amount of information clutter, and therefore messages need to be more brief, provocative, personal and engaging to get noticed and remembered. Yada, yada. We all give or view the same PowerPoint presentation.
And I find this has changed my job, in relatively superficial ways. These days, I find myself delivering messages through Facebook, YouTube, sidewalk chalking, street marketing crews, point-of-decision prompts (don’t ask), and other “new media.” And every time I do it, I pat myself on the back and feel oh so “bleeding edge.”
But, really, my job hasn’t changed that much.
I still face the same basic task of aligning the right message and media with the right audiences. As my media toolbox has gotten larger, it strikes me that my job has changed tactically, but not strategically.
Or am I missing something? And if I am missing something, what is the best new name for the industry formerly known as PR. Who are you?
— Joe Loveland