What Do Changes In PR Mean For The Rest Of Us?

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Michael Schechter - Bio PhotoCuriosity finally got the best of me and I decided to ask @PRCog about the PRBC hashtag that kept popping up in my Twitter stream. He quickly got me up to date, and must have put a little something extra in his coffee as he suggested that I offer up a guest post.

There are a two things that make his offer unusual and somewhat extraordinary. The first is that I don’t know Cog all that well. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve Tweeted a few times and I even caught him with his mask off for a brief moment at #masquertweet a while back. The second (and far more relevant) reason for my confusion is that I do not currently nor have I ever worked in PR. But I am not a complete mismatch. I have taken responsibility for SM within our company, and I write the blog and connect with our community, but I see how seriously you guys take the site and the hashtag and could not figure out why he would offer this up so freely.

That being said, the offer got my wheels spinning… what on earth could I contribute to a site of people who actually know what they are doing? I thought about this long and hard (read: I waited five whole minutes before typing in the excitement of my first guest post) and decided that the best thing I could offer is a question I’ve been dying to ask… My Google Reader is screaming, “PR is Dead!!!” and “PR is Changing!!!” Not to mention there are 30 posts on what the P now stands for and 22 versions of what the R really means. So, do I really want to consider working with a PR firm right now?

I think my company is a fair representation of the shifts happening right now. We are a medium-sized 60+-year-old company that built itself up on product development and traditional advertising. We’ve worked directly with known editors in our industry, but have never put the right amount of effort into PR. When Social Media began to emerge we decided to begin to fill this gap by communicating directly with our customers and to our delight, it works. We see a lot of smart people operating in the marketing arena, but they seem to be experimenting in the same way that we are.

The game has changed in many ways and to to a certain extent, every last one of us is discovering how to work with the social web. PR agencies have the network and a track record, but with the rules and technologies changing at such an astounding rate and the conversation about these shifts being so public, should companies who are experimenting with Social Media seek guidance from PR at this moment in time? I don’t doubt that PR will find its way and reinvent itself, but what about the present? Should those of us whose marketing plans are changing as dramatically as PR tactics be working with you right now? Or should we all keep comparing notes and wait until the dust has settled?

For almost 10 years, Michael Schechter has worked in his family’s business, Honora, a Freshwater Pearl jewelry company based in New York City. Over the past year, Michael has shifted from his role in operations to marketing and currently works as the Director of Community managing Honora‘s Website, Social Media presence as well as the overall customer experience. He also serves on the Executive Board of Gen-Next Jewelers, a community in which the next wave of jewelry manufacturers and retailers can connect and act as a resource for one another. You can connect with him on his personal blog, Twitter or via email at Michael [at] Honora.com.

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  • http://www.twitter.com/megmroberts Meg Roberts

    Great question, Michael. While social media allows brands to interact directly with their customers, there are still opportunities for PR to provide counsel and guidance to companies hoping to experiment in the space. As you said, many PR professionals already have experience that they can draw from, meaning they've probably encountered the hiccups and bumps in the road that are prevalent in the fast-moving (and often unforgiving) online world. They can pull on research from past campaigns to ensure clients don't make these same mistakes, and might be able to work better to see how social media tactics can fit in the overall marketing strategy.

    While not every organization will need to hire a PR consultant or agency to help develop social media strategies, those that are still unsure about these emerging platforms might feel better having the experiences, research, and deeper understanding that some agencies/consultants can use to consult.

    As you said, it will be interesting to see how PR continues to reinvent itself in the coming years.

  • http://michaelschechter.me MSchechter

    Thanks for the feedback! What do you think separates the organizations that should hire a consultant from those who should not?

    To a certain extent no matter what your experience may be, we are all ab it uncomfortable (or more likely unfamiliar) with the current marketing landscape.

  • http://www.twitter.com/megmroberts Meg Roberts

    Unfortunately, the simplest answer to your question is probably budget.

    I also think the organization's skill sets as a team should also play a role when deciding to hire outside consultants. Do you have a team with varied skill sets and experiences in both traditional and digital PR and/or marketing that can devise a clear, goal-oriented strategy for social media as a tactic to achieving the greater goal? Then hiring a consultant might not be as critical.

    But, you're right – it's new territory that's rapidly changing, so it is uncomfortable for everyone, regardless of experience level!

  • pamperry

    Yes, PR is changing. My agency will be only doing online publicity & social media marketing for clients in Ministry Marketing Solutions in 2010.
    Pam Perry
    http://www.MinistryMarketingSolutions.com

  • pamperry

    Yes, PR is changing. My agency will be only doing online publicity & social media marketing for clients in Ministry Marketing Solutions in 2010.
    Pam Perry
    http://www.MinistryMarketingSolutions.com

  • pamperry

    Yes, PR is changing. My agency will be only doing online publicity & social media marketing for clients in Ministry Marketing Solutions in 2010.
    Pam Perry
    http://www.MinistryMarketingSolutions.com

  • pamperry

    Yes, PR is changing. My agency will be only doing online publicity & social media marketing for clients in Ministry Marketing Solutions in 2010.
    Pam Perry
    http://www.MinistryMarketingSolutions.com