Sometimes I wish the PR profession would get out of its own way.
Let me explain. Last week, I was asked to give a speech explaining what “Modern PR” is for the Fairfield County Technology, Environment, Entertainment and Marketing (FairCo TEEM) meet-up. My co-presenter Randy Savicky ably explained some of the converging trends, from the challenging media landscape to the new role for consumers.
In my comments, I shared five ways that PR is evolving. But as I began to speak, I found myself thinking of how many PR firms might disagree with me:
1. PR is becoming content: I’ve blogged about this before, but I can’t stress enough how this one simple change has affected nearly every client, prospect or employee meeting I have on a daily basis. As a PR profession, we have to rely on greatest strength: storytelling. But we have to tell those stories using different packaging, such as an infographic or video channel.
2. PR is becoming analytics: Please trust me on this – your job is now to marry math and marketing. Using Google Analytics to understand your website traffic is only the beginning. As I shared on my buddy Arik Hanson’s blog, there is a “new math” on the horizon for every one of us in the PR profession. But there are very, very few of us talking about this topic, let alone helping clients to identify quantitative insights.
3. PR is becoming tools: There is a powerful barrage of free and paid tools that allow communications professionals to gather intelligence, compete more effectively and calibrate message penetration more precisely. Now, I admit, it’s easy to get lost in the tools clutter. But there are secret weapons you need to embrace. Take the powerful site “Which Test Won.” For little time and no money, you can begin to understand how to think about A/B testing. Why would you want to do that? Simply put, if you haven’t been speaking with a client about their website, then you are going to be marginalized.
4. PR is becoming Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Now this one should be easier to understand. Since our profession has its roots in words, it stands to reason that we should be able to understand and weave keywords into our copy. Amazingly, there are still very few firms that actively embrace this as a daily routine. That’s okay, you’ll just lose your next RFP to someone like my smart friend Chris Baldwin, whose brand new agency True Digital is already winning business from you by leveraging the intersection between SEO and PR.
5. PR is becoming social search: What’s old is new again. Ego matters. Remember how clients wanted to hire your firm so they could get in The Wall Street Journal? You can still help them with that, but how much time are you devoting to help them understand that they are now required to have a personal brand online? Do they know that Google will drop them lower in search ranking without it? Are you structuring your 2011 plans to start countering that weakness?
Here’s what I don’t understand. Why are PR folks so happy to embrace social media, but so shortsighted that they can’t recognize the larger opportunity and threat of digital? What do you think?
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