Is Traditional PR Dead?

I remember conversations a few years back when I sat around a table with a group of colleagues and asked “is traditional PR dying?” With the declining newspaper industry, and increasing digital world, it seemed that traditional PR may go by the wayside. I’m happy to report that it is not dead. But it definitely is evolving.

Reading an article in the UNC-Chapel Hill’s Journalism School newsletter, Carolina Communicator, did bring up a new question – and one I’ve heard around my office – is social media public relations? This was echoed when I attended last Thursday’s Council of PR Firms’ Critical Issues Forum, which focused on the “Social Revolution.”

In many respects, the answer is ‘yes.’ The goal of Public Relations is to share key messages with key audiences, as well as support perception and reputation management. The way that a company communicates through social media – how they do it and what they say – is just another way to communicate the messages they want stakeholders to hear.

Is it the only way to communicate? No, of course not. For reaching certain audiences, newspaper, trade publications and broadcast media - among other outlets - still play an important role.

But, as Robert Gibbs stated last Thursday at the Council of PR Firms’ Critical Issues Forum, social media is the connective tissue in communications. He said that so many people are living life through technology now, that how could we ignore the hyper communications medium? He also underlined how it’s critical to be where your audience is… not expect them to seek you out elsewhere, which is the heart of good communications.

Here are some simple keys to successful social media communications that Mr. Gibbs shared:
- Transparency
- Share unique information – offer real value
- Be responsive
- Listen

Mr. Gibbs warned that social media cannot be the “add on” that you turn to when everything else is covered. Instead, social media needs to be at the center of your communications strategy. Most importantly, he urged that if you fail to listen, you will cease to exist. This has always been true of good public relations, but in today’s hyper-responsive, social network world, more true than ever before. Is your company listening?