Brian Fuller's blog on the media, marketing and content creation

Is PR broken?

Posted on | August 14, 2008 | 13 Comments


Every few months we find a major blogger throwing down on the PR industry, some constructively, others destructively. Michael Arrington weighed in yesterday, saying “PR as a profession is broken.” Then Marshall Kirkpatrick, who usually writes with a cooler head, suggests that good technology speaks for itself and doesn’t really need PR.

Most of these guys are relatively new to the media-PR interaction game, so they’re exploring their new-found relationships as they write about them. They seem to be trying to change a 100-year-old industry by sheer force of will. Won’t happen, fellas. Constructive criticism is great, especially because most people in the PR business are running around like it’s a fire drill after just having found out that some bloggers are—shock!—influential. But getting PR to come to heel is an exercise in frustration.

I’ve been on both sides of this dialogue, and on the PR side for not very long. PR isn’t broken; it’s in transition. There’s plenty of people pounding out advice to help with this transition as well. It’ll find its way in the new media landscape, just as new media publishers will find out how to work well with PR. Bloggers aren’t the end game in the media evolution; they’re part of the mix, so PR isn’t going to change its tried-and-true models to suit a segment of the publishing industry whose importance and overall influence is yet to be understood completely.

As for Kirkpatrick’s post, I wrote a similar column years ago for EE Times. But the truth of the matter is great technology doesn’t exist in a vacuum (and as Microsoft et al have proven good technology doesn’t necessarily win the day!).

Matt McGinnis was spreading the posts on Facebook the other day, and friend and colleague Abbie Kendall jumped on to write:

Early, strategic and sustained PR is what led to record sales and Larry Ellison’s purchase of nCUBE. Yeah, the product was powerful, but it didn’t even have any applications sold for it — it was roll-your-own by customers! PR was the foundation for OrCAD to go public with just $20 mil in revenues–we had 8 Wall Street analysts following the company from day-one! Not the world’s finest software, but good enough and marketed precisely to the masses. And good enough for OrCAD to be acquired by Cadence! Good enough products + PR + integrated marcom + continuously increasing revenue = $$$$$ for companies. Duh! PR is about relationships and delivering to editors and analysts what they need when they need it. If bloggers like “discovering” their own news/content, that’s fine. We’ll help them “find” it in ways that make them feel like it was their own discovery.

Well put, Abbie.

It’s just naïve to think that technology will burst on the scene like spontaneous combustion. Someone, somehow has to get the word out.

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

Comments

13 Responses to “Is PR broken?”

  1. Abbie Kendall
    August 14th, 2008 @ 5:06 pm

    Hilarious pic. and link re Twitter that you posted today, Brian.

    Imagine if the company had used Public Relations to proactively inform and educate its customers, editors, analysts, and yes, bloggers, about the so-called 2K limit and what it really means.

    Twitter failed to communicate clearly, and now the pain in Twitterville is intense. I think I’ll contact the company about hiring a PR agency–mine!–that could show them, among other things, how to eliminate mis-communications and the fall-out from them. 😉

  2. Lou Covey
    August 14th, 2008 @ 10:59 pm

    The belief the PR is ONLY the interaction between a company and te media is why PR seems to be broken. Public Relations is the process of engineering of public opinion. The media is an important part of that process but generally is the back end of real PR. You know you’ve done your job when the media begins to repeat the position you’ve establishe for the company, based on what the market already says. the media is the echo of your work, not the voice.

  3. Chris Edwards
    August 14th, 2008 @ 11:32 pm

    Media relations is mostly broken but that’s only because they are being measured by the clients on parameters that are irrelevant to the real world – releases sent out, calls made, “messages communicated” – rather than the final results.

    PR in general is in rude health other than having its brand lumped in with poor media relations. Scoble, for example, dumps on PR then points to a bunch of things he wants that, for the most part, require half decent public relations work. And the things he wants that don’t point straight to PR will probably end up in the hands of a PR department that tries to be invisible to the outside world but trains up people on the inside.

  4. Loring Wirbel
    August 15th, 2008 @ 7:32 am

    The notion that technology will sell itself is too foolish to warrant words. Then again, the examples Abbie Kendall gives all were from several years ago. The annoying thing about modern media (and public-at-large) relations is that it’s so tied in the 21st century to a dumbed-down consumer audience, it’s very difficult for someone like Intel to get a story on high-k transistors moving – if the audience can’t touch it and play games with it, it doesn’t exist.

    Modern PR exercises viral marketing to the limit, but smart PR agents do not throw away traditionalists for the sake of TechCrunch and Second Life. Case in point – Ooma, Ashton Kucher’s VOIP company. The Ooma agent snubbed Walt Mossberg, the NY Times, Network World, etc. in favor of a strict focus on TechCrunch, Engadget, ArsTecnica, Gizmodo, under the mistaken belief that all “old media” was irrelevant. And where is Ooma today? The same place as any startup that thinks its technology is good enough to sell itself.

  5. Lisa Gillette-Martin
    August 15th, 2008 @ 9:32 am

    Loring hit the nail on the head. It’s hard to imagine that anyone would still buy into the “If we build it, they will come” theory of technological superiority. If that were the case, we’d all be using Macs. (Yes, I sit on that side of the aisle…)

    To me, the central challenge of effective media relations is the same as it’s always been: You have to have a good story, and you have to know how to communicate it in ways that will appeal to your audiences. The methods available to do this may have expanded and gone more virtual, but the communication avenues are and will always be secondary to the story.

    Which is why today’s consumer-driven environment (“if the audience can’t touch it and play games with it, it doesn’t exist” indeed!) makes PR even more challenging. But, as Brian has said, challenges are the fun part!

  6. Matt McGinnis
    August 15th, 2008 @ 10:09 am

    Right on Loring!

    The media environment is rapidly evolving and so is PR – just not always at the same pace. The real issue here is that not all bloggers get their information the same way and not all PR people understand how to work with these individuals.

    I don’t see the industry as broken, just in flux. Plenty of good PR people, like Brian, are doing a great job with social media and traditional media. The authoritative book on how to absolutely do it right hasn’t and can’t be written. That’s like trying to engrave your name in a lava flow.

  7. Chris Edwards
    August 15th, 2008 @ 10:21 am

    @Loring

    Did Ooma actually snub old media? Mossberg had a review as the embargo lifted, so he clearly had hardware before the launch which was more than most bloggers got, as I understand it. AP carried the story and the NY Times had it on the Bits blog.

    However, the welcome from all was less than rapturous so I wonder whether the PR snubbed anybody but simply found that no-one was very convinced by what Ooma had to offer. In a blog or column, you have the opportunity to trash it. With news, there is far less flexibility so maybe people considered that the spike could take care of it.

    PR seems to have had little impact on Ooma: it’s all about the product itself.

  8. michele clarke
    August 15th, 2008 @ 10:28 am

    I’ve been on both sides for an equal amount of time now (which is scary) and it’s clear: there are as many different definitions of PR as there are people who both practice and are subjected to it. It spans all of things folks here are discussing… product, technology, corporate, financial, employee engagement, philanthropy (i.e., fund raising), political, ad infinitum.

    Equally clear: the effective PR folks understand it’s about connecting to a concrete business (or organizational or political) objective. When you do that, no one gnashes any teeth about measurement – they’re too busy reveling in their success…

    Equally true: there is good PR and horrible PR. Just as there is good journalism and horrible journalism. It’s often just after experiencing “bad” PR that these folks chirp up…

    … they’ll get over it.

    In the meantime, the lousy journalists create wonderful job security for the good PR folks. 🙂

  9. wretch
    August 15th, 2008 @ 3:38 pm

    I’m another guy who’s worked on both sides of the fence, and the harshest lesson I took away from my stint in PR is that a PR agency can’t be any smarter than its clients will let them be.

    If the PR agent says “let’s disseminate this widely,” and the client insists “I don’t want Mossberg; I want Ars Technica,” well, then, there’s not much PR agents can do after their clients have rejected their recommendations.

    For the past 10-, maybe 20 years, MBAs have tended to not understand advertising, PR, or marketing.

  10. Screaming Lady
    August 19th, 2008 @ 1:42 pm

    anybody remember Joe Williams? He was something of a corporate communications guru in the early 80s. He said at the time that until companies start giving public relations a seat at the boardroom table, they'll never get it. Literally, they'll never get IT. I remember at my first job, an MBA was given the helm of the communications department, and she started pulling headlines off all press releases because (MBA school) studies showed newspapers didn't use them. Wretch nails it re: Advertising/marketing/PR. It looks easy, but is so specialized — like law — that when lay people try to practice it, disasters happen. Joe worked for Johnson & Johnson (Tylenol) in those days, by the way.

  11. Screaming Lady
    August 19th, 2008 @ 5:10 pm

    Correction: Joe worked for TRW in the early 80s. Don’t know where I got Tylenol except maybe we talked a lot about it in his desert workshops.

  12. Anonymous
    December 23rd, 2008 @ 8:40 pm
  13. wooaini
    February 10th, 2009 @ 1:39 am

    铜米机
    碳雕
    炭雕
    活性炭
    活性炭雕
    空气净化产品
    好想你枣
    北京好想你枣
    网站建设
    网站推广
    googel左侧优化
    googel左侧推广
    搜索引擎优化
    仓壁振动器
    给料机
    分子蒸馏
    短程蒸馏
    薄膜蒸发器
    导热油
    真空泵油
    胎毛笔
    手足印
    婴儿纪念品
    婴幼儿纪念品
    园林机械
    草坪机
    油锯
    小型收割机
    收割机
    割灌机
    割草机
    电动喷雾器
    地钻
    采茶机
    飘人|飘人2008|云淡风清
    铣刀
    意大利留学
    留学意大利
    钢管舞
    钢管舞培训
    北京钢管舞
    爵士舞
    北京音皇国际
    印刷厂
    油锯
    割草机
    绿篱机
    风力灭火机
    留学意大利
    意大利留学
    好日子小吃车
    好日子烧烤小吃车
    好日子多功能小吃车
    好日子烧烤车
    中频感应熔炼锻造设备
    高频感应加热钎焊设备
    保护膜
    佛具
    律师事务所
    北京律师事务所
    法律咨询
    北京律师
    北京法律咨询
    小吃车
    多功能小吃车
    烧烤小吃车
    烧烤车
    拓展训练
    水泥艺术围栏
    水泥艺术围栏设备
    水泥艺术围栏机械
    水泥栅栏设备
    艺术护栏
    艺术栏杆
    环保艺术围栏
    环保围栏
    环保围栏机械
    环保围栏设备
    彩色艺术围栏
    花瓶柱
    阳台柱
    阳台护栏设备
    阳台护栏
    塑料轴承
    陶瓷轴承
    破碎镐
    铣刨机
    china tours
    china travel
    china tour packages
    tibet tour
    泳池设备
    桑拿设备
    高低温试验箱
    盐雾试验箱
    割草机
    风力灭火机
    绿篱机
    输液轨道
    输液吊架
    轨道输液架
    医用吊架
    天轨输液吊杆
    医用扶手
    输液架
    设备带
    治疗带
    中心供氧
    博客1
    博客2
    博客3
    博客4
    博客5
    博客6
    博客7
    博客8
    博客9
    博客10
    博客11
    博客12
    博客13
    博客14
    博客15
    博客16
    博客0
    博客刘
    网站建设
    网站推广
    googel左侧优化
    googel左侧推广
    搜索引擎优化
    铜铝连接管
    铜铝连接管焊机
    千古一香小吃车
    千古一香烧烤小吃车
    千古一香多功能小吃车
    千古一香无烟烧烤小吃车
    搬家公司
    北京搬家公司
    北京朝阳区搬家公司
    通州区搬家公司
    北京通州区搬家
    海淀区搬家公司
    北京市丰台搬家公司
    冷缠防腐胶带
    环氧煤沥青冷缠带
    防腐漆涂料
    防腐材料
    聚丙烯增强纤维防腐胶带
    环氧富锌底漆
    耐高温漆涂料
    环氧树脂漆
    环氧煤沥青
    玻璃鳞片涂料胶泥
    机柜
    IBM机柜
    APC机柜
    VEOR机柜
    切换器
    好日子多功能小吃车
    好日子小吃车
    好日子烧烤小吃车
    北京好日子小吃车加盟
    好日子小吃车
    好日子多功能小吃车
    一品香小吃车
    千古一香小吃车
    上海租车
    上海汽车租赁
    上海租车网
    平安保险北京
    北京平安保险
    石材翻新
    石材结晶
    石材养护
    搬家公司
    北京市搬家公司
    朝阳区搬家公司
    通州搬家公司
    顺义搬家公司
    亦庄搬家公司
    玻璃喷砂机
    喷砂机
    打砂机
    玻璃机械

Leave a Reply





  • Sunset in the Sunset

    Sunset in the Sunset
  • Recent Comments