Is PR toast in 2009?

Recession.

We’ve all heard the word. We know it’s not good. But do we really understand it’s implications on the PR world?

The United States is clearly in an economic downturn, and service industries like PR will definitely be affected. Lay-offs in the industry have already been reported at large firms like Fleishman Hillard.

One of the top CEOs in the industry, Richard Edelman, addressed the topic on his blog on March 14, 2008. He says that PR is “better prepared this time around…[but] we still need to make a compelling case for PR in the face of looming budget cuts.” We, as PR professionals, must promote PR itself and stand behind its many benefits. He offers these thoughts in his commentary:

1. The media has changed drastically. We need to be the experts on new media and original content to help clients maintain credibility.

2. PR is at an advantage over advertising. Nine out of ten people don’t trust advertising, but they do buy and act based on recommendation. We need to take advantage of opinion leaders and social media to reach beyond traditional methods.

3. The industry is not just about consumers- it’s about stakeholders, too. We need to make sure brand and corporate reputation support each other and look for responsible initiatives to maintain image.

4. PR educates. With complex scientific and political issues, we need to spread messages in ways that are simple and easy to understand.

5. PR is a catalyst. We need to use our campaigns to create public conversation and a continuous feedback loop between the client and the audience.

In my opinion, here’s the bottom line: PR professionals must see the industry just like they see their clients. We need to spread our message: that PR is beneficial and necessary in the business world, recession or not.

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