Mainstream Public Relations Will Grow Even If They Don’t “Get It”

Tom Foremski in an interesting public relations and tech article predicts a major shake up disruption in "mainstream PR."  I find fault with his logic but I do applaud his thinking and would rather suggest that adding historical elements would solve the logic problem leading to an alternate result.  A result in fact that is opposite; that mainstream PR agencies will learn and adapt and integrate SEO and Social Software into strategy and tactics just like they learned that new fangled medium called "radio" a while back.

First, Tom’s logic:

Disruption in mainstream media but where is the disruption in the mainstream PR industry?
. . .it’s coming

<snip>The companies are able to reach many of their customers through search engine marketing–and that drives revenues. Yet those same companies want to be visible in the media, in news stories, features, radio and TV shows–because they believe this will drive revenues.

If the companies know that mainstream media is inefficient at advertising and therefore of less value in helping to drive revenues. . . why do they believe there is great value in being mentioned in the mainstream media?


-Companies can sell their products and services with a far lower cost of sales these days, because it is easier than ever to reach their customers directly through search engine marketing and blogs.

-This means there that there is far less value offered by mainstream media and mainstream public relations in the product and services sales process.

The flaw in the argument is of course the assumption that mainstream PR agencies only obtain coverage for their clients in the mainstream media. 

For example Bernays was known for starting his PR campaigns with a memorable event and using a multi pronged approach to obtain coverage across media.  An interesting event will be covered by all sorts of media both online and offline.  Having a sound foundation for your PR strategy, even if you are NOT tech savvy, will generate BETTER RESULTS in the current media environment.  Radio expanded PR because it was another new media.

Now, I don’t doubt that the mainstream PR agencies are a bit clueless (nice title tag Ogilvy!) when it comes to tech.  I wrote an article for PR Tactics last year and recently submitted another.   Our tech savvy PR agency in Dallas keeps telling me to simplify.  I reply "but isn’t RSS already simple?" – and the answer is consistently "no".  They challenge me to clarify the message.  I get frustrated and try to improve knowing they are correct.

PR works for reasons articulated best here.  Mainstream PR, along with the rest of the PR industry, will continue to grow.  That is my prediction.  And I am sticking to it.