Anecdotal Evidence Suggests PR On the Right Path

A woman giving a speech at a podiumOver the past year, we have talked a lot on PRBC about the changing role of a PR practitioner, how the profession is perceived by reporters, bloggers, executives and the public and some of the backlash the PR business has received due to a multitude of issues.

Through all of these changes, I’m still very optimistic that the profession is progressing along the right path; that we’re taking strides toward becoming more transparent, more focused on helping companies build their businesses (rather than building our own egos) and more in line with the goals of our clients and their key audiences and constituents.

My optimism is enhanced by recent anecdotal evidence noting how others, many of whom were once staunch opponents of the value of PR, view the strategic value of retaining PR counsel. Specifically, a post on blogger relations by Gizmodo UK editor Kat Hannaford, and another post by Jennifer Walzer of Backup My Info! leave me with the impression that our profession, as a whole, is beginning to learn from its mistakes. And while we certainly have many areas in need of improvement (media relations, agency turnover rates, mentorship, etc.), I feel we are beginning to see the hard work of many to reshape the public’s perception of the value of public relations taking hold.

It’s through reading articles and first-hand accounts of PR/blogger and PR/executive relationships, like those mentioned above, that I find the most valuable insight when building my own case for the strategic value of PR. Ms. Walzer’s post in The New York Times offered some invaluable insights into how small business executives may be viewing our profession. A key point included:

You may remember one of my posts from last year in which I talked about not needing a public relations firm because we were getting plenty of media coverage organically. Well, as I looked back on that coverage recently, I realized that it was more focused on me as a business owner than on the company and the team. And right now, I’m so busy building the company, training new employees, and managing my pregnancy that I haven’t had time to seek speaking and interview opportunities.

To me, this is indicative of two things: 1) That PR professionals are doing a far better job extolling the value of their strategic, long-term work for clients, rather than throwing out every old trick in the name of quick media placements because that’s what they think clients want to hear (it isn’t); and 2) The ongoing recession is beginning to help SMB executives realize the DIY approach to PR and brand building can only go so far. Communications and PR professionals who have experience, contacts and strategic insight into building businesses can do far more than merely get an article for a company. They can actually help a business grow and expand.

Like any profession, there are areas of improvement we all know we need to focus on, but some of the anecdotal evidence I, and others, have seen recently suggests we’re on the right path.

Where do you see the PR profession making good strides, and where do we still need to improve to fully extoll the strategic value of PR?

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  • Great post Keith. I agree, I think the PR profession is moving in the right direction. While there is always room for improvement, you are right that as professionals we must do a better job of communicating PR’s strategic value to a business. It is not just about a press release or a media hit anymore but creating long-term value to benefit a clients business strategy.

    • Thanks for chiming in, Shannon. I think you hit the nail right on the head that quite frankly, our primary strategic value to clients is of being long-term, strategic counsel for helping to build businesses, whether that is through media relations, blogger relations, exec visibility, messaging or a whole slew of other strategies and tactics we have at our arsenal. But in order to demonstrate that strategic value, and move the discussion with potential clients beyond just how we can get them in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, etc., we have to avoid the temptations and pressures to allow those discussions to even take place, at least early in negotiations, and instead, focus more on discussing how our counsel, expertise and guidance will offer companies long-term brand-building value that in most cases, will go far and beyond the monetary cost of our services, and if done right and given the proper time to do so (a rarity in many client relationships), will yield numerous growth results for a company.