EVERYTHING CHANGES BUT REMAINS EXACTLY THE SAME
There's a major misconception doing the rounds in 'PR world' at the moment. You can see it easily – just google ‘how has PR changed’, and your search will return pages of references to the effect of social media, and yet another limp truism about companies needing to engage with their customers online, and wait for it... be a part of… (head hits the keyboard)… the big conversation. What total tripe. Talk about stating the crashingly obvious, and in doing so, miss the fundamental point entirely.
Actually, the core proposition of PR work is exactly the same as it was 13 years ago, when Facebook was no more than an idea hidden under the clothes on the floor of a university dorm. Social media and traditional media are exactly the same in one crucial way: they are simply ways for the general public to access narratives, stories. It’s very easy to get your mind snagged in the delivery mechanism:
Is it via a journalist, or direct to the audience via Facebook?
Are you writing a media release, a blog post or a speech?
What do we do to make sure we can respond to potential negative feedback in online chatrooms or newspaper letters pages? That’s where some agencies will bamboozle their clients with technical terms, stipulations about posting frequency, online etiquette or tone-of-voice, and intimations of arcane PR magic.
But if you follow the spray of magic dust back to its source, you will find that all of these related communication tools (because that’s all they really are) rely on the same skill: The ability to generate great content. If you can’t do that, then it doesn’t matter whether you are using Twitter or Tatler, the effect will be exactly the same – a large dose of nothing at all. But if you can produce the content which inspires, engages and stimulates your audience then the choice of which channel to use is no more than choosing whether to swim with a swift and purposeful front crawl, or rely on the tried and tested breaststroke. Yes, the different choices have their strengths and weaknesses – but the destination is the same: great communication.