Before I started my business, I thought PR was about getting press. Period. A bunch of my friends are entrepreneurs, and they hire PR agencies to convince journalists and bloggers to write about them, TV shows to feature them, and twitterers to tweet about them. Some of these friends have entirely separate crews to handle their publicity (but isn’t that part of the whole PR thing?). So I sat down and asked some of my most successful small-biz owner friends what they pay for these services. And I about died. Since I’m running a start-up, my PR budget is exactly zero. As I mentioned in my first post, it was about then I decided I’d do this PR thing myself.
In the grand scheme of things, our constant, seemingly never-ending discussions and Twittering and blogging about the evolution of PR/marketing/advertising and how cool social media is will eventually die down, and we will get back to our normal—albeit now drastically altered (hopefully for the better)—professional and personal lives.
So rather than talk about what is currently going on in the social media landscape (look, a new Twitter app came out . . . and another!), I’d like to actually think about what we *might* be talking about a year, two years, or five years from now. Specifically, mobile technology and just how big of an impact it’s going to have on our lives, particularly in the PR world.
Look around you; the damn things are everywhere. You can even take a cell phone into a delivery room now and tweet while giving birth! Crazy, I know. But that’s just it: The effect mobile technology is going to have on communicators in terms of how we get messages across to key influencers, and how we engage the public, will be enormous. Far bigger than what is currently going on in the social media landscape. We’re talking about a technology that is now in the hands of more than 82 percent (250 million) of Americans and approximately 50 percent of the world!
But it gets even better: A recent MediaWeek study showed that 1 in every 7 minutes of media consumption is now done through mobile technology. Think about that for a minute: That great op-ed you wrote for your client that’s read on an iPhone now by the most tech-savvy around us? Give it five years. Everyone in your community is going to be instantly reading it on their smartphones, tweeting it back out to their followers (if Twitter still exits in five years . . . .), and sending it all over their social media network(s) to audiences you could have never even dreamed of.
Or even cooler, the fact that very soon (as in, it’s in its infancy now in the U.S.), marketers will have the ability to embed special 2-D barcodes into posters, shirts, billboards, practically anything, and someone with a mobile phone can take a picture of it and get all kinds of cool promos, buy movie tickets, or even get train times sent directly to their phone. Don’t believe me? Check out this piece from The Economist for a view into the not-too-distant future.
So what does that mean for you, the PR guy, the marketer, or ad man who is desperately trying to keep up with the current changes? Well, I hate to tell you, but it’s only going to build from here. And that’s actually a good thing. Because while the last five years in our business has seen a rapid growth and movement toward expanding from traditional services and offerings, opportunities are going to continue to arise that will keep us busy—and hopefully—excited for many years to come.
I envision a future in the PR world where certainly ideas like the social media news release, Wikis, and other mobile-friendly formats will become even more prevalent, as brands quickly realize that there are far more efficient and cheaper ways to reach their targeted consumers than the traditional giant, static billboard on the side of the road.
Where do you think the PR, marketing, and advertising industries are moving? Are the technologies and ideas I noted above going to be part of this movement, or are these just flash-in-the-pan ideas? Let me know!
No, seriously, you don’t. You might have a clue about the ballpark range of my age because of my photo here, you know where I work (because I’ve told you), and you know that I at least have a degree in Public Relations.
So why are you still reading this post? Who says I’m the authority here?
Allow me to explain the questions I pose . . . .
This one’s in response (expansion) to a post from the lovely Ms. Campbell (@prsoapbox), who was kind enough to grace me with her company at dinner last week along with Ms. Vallejo and Ms. Sena. She recently brought us this blog post addressing the ethics in our chosen profession—the great world of public relations in its various forms.
As in many other fields, there are some bright lines that we dare not cross. Then there are those ethically grey areas. Yes (!)—there can be ethically grey areas, not everything is easily placed on a black or white square. These usually pop up when our own ethical rules for various areas of our life (personal and professional) come into conflict and we must step up and make the decision of what/which is most important to us.
Scene 1: Camera One pans to girls at door. A faint voice states “thirty seconds till we air.” Final checks in place, Louboutins (check), black dress (check), clipboard (check), stern look (check.) Let’s roll, 5 . . . 4 . . . 3 . . . 2 . . . air.
Camera Two pans to X celebrity arriving in the black sedan and walks up to red carpet; she stops to pose for a few photos to hear cat-calling from paparazzi in the galley. Cut to second scene.
Scene 2: Louboutin-wearing girls hovering around a VIP table having a cocktail (yes, at their own event) and hanging out with their friends they snuck in. Drama begins to unfold. Cut, end scene.
Okay, how many of us have watched reality and primetime television shows where this act is played over and over again? (Pause for all PR people to verbally grunt at the computer.) Exactly.
I should probably start this post by noting that I’m an eternal optimist . . . I look at the bright side of practically everything, so if that isn’t your style, you may just want to skip this post. OK, that’s out of the way, here we go!
Maybe it’s the “dog days” of summer still, or the fact that we’re still mired in a major recession that has everyone in a tizzy and seemingly at each other’s throats in the PR business when almost every minor situation that arises. Accidentally blast out an e-mail to thousands of people and forget to use the very helpful—but often misused—BCC function? Boom! You’re facing at least a week of full-on ridicule from your own brethren. For many of us, it can get to be a bit too much sometimes.
By now, it goes without saying: The college graduates of 2009 had the extreme misfortune of graduating into the worst economy in decades. Not only are they competing with their fellow classmates for jobs, they’re also going up against professionals who should be further along in their careers, but are being forced to apply for entry-level jobs due to lack of anything else. This recession has taken the image of starry-eyed post-grads with their entire, exciting lives ahead of them and turned it into a picture of desperate young adults taking on part-time positions just to make some money. It’s incredibly scary and disheartening.