In my inaugural post at DJG, I want to address my move from traditional PR to an integrated group. I am not abandoning my PR experience. Quite the contrary. It was important to me, as I was considering my own career path, to find a team that knew the true value of PR as a strategic tool. Not just because it is my bailiwick but because, to me, having this knowledge is a sign pointing in the right direction.
So what direction is that? Toward the internet. Where we know more than half of U.S. residents hang out – two thirds of whom for more than three hours a day.
To me it is simple; at the heart of PR is content. C.S. Lewis said it best, “We read to know we are not alone.” And that’s ultimately what PR does – generates content that persuades people to join the club. Someone wants to know before they buy or join or commit that they aren’t alone in that choice. The best way to reassure them is through thoughtful, strategic content.
That’s why I think it’s slightly off that some people define PR as just media relations. I have always defined it as influence. It is a real shame to see, even people within the industry, holding fast to this notion that PR can’t be defined as anything more than its relationship to the media. Entire firms are struggling because they can’t wrap their heads around the fact that their main job as an influencer is to communicate to people, anyone, who then reports back to consumers.
With the media landscape changing, these people aren’t always reporters – they can be bloggers or filmmakers or moms who have a Tumblr of interesting packages they see at the grocery store. The landscape has changed. The intent has not.
With that in mind, knowing that more than 164 million adults in the U.S. are on the internet, and of them nearly half admit search results influence their decisions, there is no way to execute a PR program without considering social media and online marketing part of the package. People use the internet to reassure themselves they are not alone in their decisions.
And PR people will have to adapt, and keep adapting. One thing I also know – five years from now it will be something else entirely. When I started working just out of college, we blew clients’ minds with email campaigns. Now, it’s Twitter chats. One of the best parts of my job is knowing that whatever “it” is changes routinely. I am able to keep up because I never allow myself to get nearsighted about the process – this will always be about influence and what’s the best way to affect it.