— blending the mix

Is PR really as bad as the cool-cats make out?

I’ve been into the whole “PR people just don’t get it” thing ever since we launched PressRoom a few weeks ago.

We spoke to a room full of PR people who looked (on the whole) utterly confused about things like Twitter, blogging and social media.

“My colleague send press releases out as part of his job, will this social media release tool put him out of a job” was one such comment and typical of the lack of understanding of social media.

On this evidence, the suggestion is that indeed, as per Vero’s post, the PR Industry doesn’t get IT (IT being “it” the object, emphasised for dramatic effect rather than I.T. – that dodgy-looking tech department with long-haired geeks in).

But is it fair to say (frequently) that the PR industry as a whole just doesn’t get it? Look at esteemed luminaries such as Becky, Stephen and Stuart, not forgetting Brian and Geoff – there’s no doubt THEY get it! Why can’t others?

On the flip side, is it fair to suggest that the tech industry (ok, the early adopters) are trying to frighten the PR industry into needing their tech/building services by suggesting that social media requires NASA-affiliated qualifications? Then again we all have a responsibility to ensure that we keep up to date with thing going on in our industry – why should PR be any different?

Take the BIMA and Paul Walsh – no, please do 😉 when looking for a new PR agency, Paul advertised it on Twitter only. If you had to ask why, you were clearly not the people for him.

Is there an element of arrogance from the tech industry that they understand something that they know people need? Let’s not forget, many of these early adopters were the nerdy types at school who got bullied for being nerds, whilst the pretty, popular flirty girlies were the ones who went into PR and Marketing (yes, I know – stereotypes are bad, but sometimes funny!).

Ourman wades in with one of the few negative comments about the piece and makes a good point. Do bloggers have the right to demand more careful treatment just because they have a free-will-powered publishing tool (blog) at their disposal? The suggestion is that bloggers deserve more respect and care taken over their approach than a journalist in getting pitched to. But do they? Yes and No.

No, because they are no different to anybody else writing for an audience. Many bloggers want the exclusive, they need the latest breaking news ahead of anyone else just, like journalists. Why should bloggers take any different exception to a crap pitch than a journo?

Yes, because most blogs (and bloggers) are free from the constraints of corporate policy and can respond vociferously to the lazy pr pitches and can quickly slate the poor approaches for being exactly that – poor. Many hacks would no doubt LOVE the chance to respond in the way bloggers can so PR peeps take note.

And let’s not forget what Chris Anderson did (and he is/was on both sides of the fence!)

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  1. Paul Walsh says: July 25, 200812:04 pm

    It’s worth pointing out that my ulterior motive for advertising on Twitter was to do a little PR surrounding the fact that we were looking for a PR firm. I was interviewed by PR Weekly within a week. Marketing professionals and PR folk can also be early adopters. But with just a million users on Twitter worldwide, it’s not even close to becoming a mainstream application yet.

    That said, it is about time that they understood the art of conversation.

    We had 8 companies get in touch, out of which, most of them were very high quality. Six Degrees was the clear winner and we’re very impressed with them already.

  2. Chris says: July 25, 200812:49 pm

    In short, NO, they don’t deserve special treatment, and should in fact get over themselves, far too much self importance radiating in that space.

  3. paul.fabretti says: July 28, 20085:05 am

    @Paul with the way you have used Twitter before and with Wubud recently) I did wonder if you had done this intentionally.

  4. Paul Walsh says: July 28, 20085:11 am

    @Paul – it was an ‘ulterior’ motive, not the main reason. It was a bonus. If you like, another ulterior motive was to demonstrate how you can use those mediums to do lots of good stuff that’s more powerful and cheaper than traditional techniques. It’s like a complete package with almost everything I do.

  5. paul.fabretti says: July 28, 20085:13 am

    @Paul (Walsh) i know exactly what you mean with the package – one message gets sent to many – blog, twitter, facebook, friendfeed etc.

  6. Paul Walsh says: July 28, 20085:16 am

    No, sorry Paul. What I meant was, there are many different benefits/fractions/ulterior motives to just one task. For example, there were many reasons/benefits to sending that single Twitter message about looking for a new PR agency.

  7. paul.fabretti says: July 28, 20085:19 am

    Sure, gotcha.

  8. Dave Kinsella says: July 30, 20087:58 am

    Although there may be an element of early-adopter snobbery involved – “you don’t use Twitter?, sheesh”. I think that there’s the issue of changing patterns in mass media consumption. I’m sure when commercial television came along, there were plenty of PR, marketing and advertising execs who had no idea what to do with it, but they had no choice but to learn. Now that social media is moving from the early-adopter world into the mainstream (even my wife uses facebook more than email and that’s about all she uses a computer for), the companies responsible for creating awareness need to understand how these platforms work.

  9. Matt Anderson says: August 12, 200810:46 am


    I do agree with certain elements of misunderstanding in the PR industry regarding online PR. Certainly many digital agencies have been toying with social networks and blogging for some time now. Mainly because these techniques are seen by web design companies a way to improve SEO and not necessarily public relations.

    At Montage Communications we have set out to be the leading online PR company in the South West as clearly many digital agencies were setting up blogs, RSS, Facebook and Twitters for their clients but with no strategic communications plan behind them.

    As PRs we must move away from focusing on print and only getting our clients into the FT.

    The scope for 1:1 conversation with key influencers and engaging with your clients direct through online media abounds.

    We set up PRBristol.co.uk to raise awareness in the industry as interactive media fits many skill sets of PRs in providing high quality and engaging content . However to date we have found that many PRs don’t understand the potential of online media.

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