EDITORIAL: Today, you need tech to talk PR

For most PR practitioners, the high point of their exposure to the

wonders of new technology is Microsoft Word and their Bacons or Vocus

database. There are good reasons for this. PR is a discipline

fundamentally built on the ability of its foot soldiers to get on the

phone and persuade - a task that lives or dies on the simple gift of gab

or the written word.



PR agencies have also shown themselves to be less than keen to invest

large amounts of money in significant new pieces of agency-wide kit,

conscious of the fact that any outlay has to be somehow recouped in fees

to clients.



But all this is changing. As the agency game gets ever tougher, shops

need to professionalize their services in order to increase efficiency

and distinguish themselves from the competition.



Technology that offers better and quicker ways to work directly with

clients - 'collaborative technology' - is one of the hottest new tools

around at the moment. Who wouldn't be happy to share the editing of a

press release online, in real time, rather than have to undertake a

50-mile round-trip to visit a client to do the job? This was the one of

the most visible benefits to one of our four tech testers in this week's

issue (see page 20).



But the value of technology to PR agencies isn't just at a tactical

level.



Agencies are learning that it is worth the investment to hook every

employee up into some kind of common knowledge-sharing system. Ketchum

is a particularly fervent advocate of using technology to standardize

the 'experience' that its people offer to clients, and has recently

invested in agency-wide technology that means PR executives can share

account knowledge (within the boundaries of client conflict), and work

with clients more efficiently.



Fleishman-Hillard's CEO John Graham has managed to cut down the time he

spends on a plane by using streaming video technology to talk to

employees across the world.



We think technology will only increase in importance to the PR industry,

and will be devoting more space to studying its effects in future

months.



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