The public relations field of twenty years ago consisted of ‘snail-mail’, a fax machine, a telephone and the creativity of the professional. Now everyone in the field is praising the importance of social media. What a contrast. With the digital media revolution, the PR industry has become much more complex and is now almost entirely web based. PR professionals still craft pitches and news releases to send to main stream media, but the field now has many more facets. You can now manage a client’s Facebook page, Twitter account, You Tube channel and blog to build their reputation and reach their target audience. Pitching traditional media outlets such as newspapers and magazines is no longer the bread and butter of the industry. PR professionals are beginning to include bloggers and online journalists as important contacts on their media lists. All of these new forums are a great way for us to gain audience awareness of our client’s message, but it also raises questions of the future of PR.
Yes, digital media is providing great opportunities for PR professionals to promote their clients, but isn’t it just creating a lot more ‘noise’ to cut through? As Twitter, Facebook and blogs gain popularity the unique pitching opportunities that they offer will become more mundane, and the traditional media that our industry has relied on thus far will be dead and gone. There is even talk of the social media boom becoming a ‘crutch’ for PR people to blindly pitch their clients without strategically crafting their message.
Now, I’m blogging about this topic so it’s clear that I don’t feel like the growing popularity of social media is entirely negative. But I do feel, however, that it is up to PR professionals to use this digital revolution to enhance our craft without damaging our credibility. I feel that we must only use these media outlets when they make sense strategically and that we shouldn’t just ‘tweet’ for the sake of ‘tweeting’. Are we really ready to rely solely on the fickle tendencies of those who participate in social media?
How do you feel about the digitization of the PR industry? Is it a smart new craze or a lazy phase?