Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Very Public Relations

Here's an interesting article by PR type Steve Rubel. Money quote:
It's my view that increasingly, bloggers (and maybe journos too) simply don't want our help. Many bloggers - particularly those who cover tech - love to discover new things and experience them on their own, unaided by PR.
Steve, it isn't so much that bloggers (or even the traditional media) want to find their own story. OK, maybe that's a small part of it, but mainly it's that we react badly to anything written in a commercial tone of voice. Look at this random press release.

This isn't intended as a dig at Nike; it's more the PR industry in general. I mean, this press release wouldn't even pass the Turing Test. It's obviously gone through several iterations to allow for the "right" structure, the "right" tone of voice and the "right" message. Almost all evidence of humanity has been left by the side of the road. And it's about the freakin' Olympics!! It's really no surprise that even Rubel throws most of his away.

Here's the thing. These days, we're used to reading articles online written by people who don't hold formal press credentials. Their articles are friendly, genuine, flawed and *much* more interesting to read.

From a company perspective, there's an obvious (albeit scary) way around this problem. Let your workforce talk online about their work. Let them choose the tools to use. The people will self-select. They'll be the ones who are most passionate about what they're doing, and the most knowledgeable. And it's this passion and knowledge that will attract the right audience that the outdated tools can't reach.

This needn't harm the PR industry too much, not in the short term at least. They can still send traditional communications down traditional channels (there are traditional journos out there, after all). But it does represent an opportunity for PR departments and agencies that are willing to evolve. Companies need help transitioning to this model, and there is still value in consistent communication of e.g. company values. And individuals may need support and encouragement.

This is the new face of Public Relations. You have a choice: adapt or fade away!

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