Why PR?

The PR industry is under scrutiny right now – especially agencies – as businesses wonder if they need a PR agency or a social media...

The PR industry is under scrutiny right now – especially agencies – as businesses wonder if they need a PR agency or a social media agency (or both). The question our industry needs to answer is “Why PR?” What is the value that experienced communicators bring to the table over social media agencies or more affordable, one-man consultants who have now found themselves in the promotions business because of Twitter fame, or viral video success?

The new-fangled description of PR has been dubbed, quite simply, “people relations.” This isn’t terribly revolutionary, but what is significant is that social media experts the world over are positioning that they know how to relate to “people” better than traditional “public relations” experts.

Do they?

While there’s definitely value in being “one of them” and connecting with people on a personal level – ala many social media consultants – there is also value in understanding the bigger picture of marketing, branding, messaging, and PR. You need to know how to train and position your team as experts across the board, because if you haven’t yet, you’re sure to run up against a “social media agency” or consultant in future RFPs. To succeed, you’ll need to know how to balance the hip buzz of social media with the knowledge of long-term marketing strategy.

Perhaps you’ll partner with a social media agency, or build a social media “division” of your own. But you’ll need to know how to merge both concepts and demonstrate the value of such to potential clients.

As an industry, we need to step up to make it clear why PR experts are necessary, and why social media isn’t a replacement. Just as the scrutiny of PR is abundant, the social media world will begin to shake out. Our big challenge now is to demonstrate why experienced communicators are best suited to blend the entire marketing picture together – with social media as just one part of a bigger, intricate picture of success.

Christine Perkett, founder and president, PerkettPR

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