In Social Media Chaos, Remember Traditional PR


I never, ever thought I’d write a post about the value of traditional public relations. (I don’t put PR in my title much any more; I prefer the business-to-business social media marketing moniker.) I was all up in arms over a post written by Danny Brown about some pitch he got from a PR firm about a new buzz word its trying to create, called “PRkting.”

That threw me into a tailspin, and here’s why:

Public relations is its own discipline. Yes, public relations blends now more than ever with marketing.


Maybe the ergo was supposed to swing the other way; in this instance it swung…directly into the quagmire of bad ideas.

Public relations practitioners have gotten, get and will always earn a bad rap; especially if they’re behind the Chick Fil-A debacle, PR crisis. If you’ve been following any posts here, at Spin Sucks, at Waxing Unlyrical or at Danny Brown’s houses, then you’ll know how bad it’s been for we in PR.

Putting a stupid, trendy buzz word moniker on what public relations should be to disguise all the bad and to tap the good from marketing is not the answer. What is the answer is doing good, traditional PR to earn respect. That way people in marketing and business and the C-suite and corner office can understand the value of public relations.

Good Old Traditional PR

An op-ed in the Wall Street Journal by Seth Goldman, cofounder & TeaEO of Honest Tea, July 23, 2012 is a perfect example of traditional public relations at its finest.

Mr. Goldman, to be sure, did not pick up the phone and pitch the op-ed pages of the Wall Street Journal all by his lonesome. After all, he’s “TeaEO” and that’s his title, no lie.

The TeaEO of Honest Tea wouldn’t have thought of aligning a current business issue in an op-ed based on a proposal by NYC Mayor Bloomberg to ban sugar-sweetened drinks in containers larger than 16 oz. After all, Mr. Goldman is in a corner office running his business.

Mr. Goldman, TeaEO of Honest Tea, is likely not the brilliant writer depicted in the Wall Street Journal op-ed, although one cannot be sure. His smarts are more than likely attributed to solid business sense to “launch Honest Tea 14 years ago with five thermoses and a belief that consumers were thirsty for a lower-calorie natural and organic beverage.”

And, so, I bring you three solid reasons why traditional public relations is squarely behind 75 percent of op-eds you read in national newspapers (that stat is totally unsubstantiated).

Do you think the TeaEO (I bet you’re tired of hearing that title, eh?) of an entrepreneurial company knew innately how to land an op-ed in a national print daily business newspaper or did he perhaps rely upon professionally trained, strategic public relations practitioners who knew to:

  1. Seize Mayor Bloomberg’s timely proposal about anti-sugar drinks in large containers and make a case for Honest Tea which already has made a sizeable capital investment to conform to current New York City regulations?
  2. Challenge the NYC mayor to consider and reverse his expensive business proposition that would wreak havoc on a business that provides tea in 16.9 oz bottles to city restaurants.
  3. Write a coherent and thoughtful op-ed with action orientation that has readers siding with the TeaEO.
  4. Pitch the piece to a department in the Wall Street Journal typically so absolutely unapproachable AND get it accepted for publication.


Perhaps you hadn’t thought of what goes on behind an op-ed until now. Trust me when I tell you, that public relations by strategic practitioners make these elements happen on a daily basis; it’s just that you don’t know it. And, trust me when I tell you this…when you see a PR person trying to appear on the frontlines and earn credit for this type of work, run the other way; fast.

Our role is to make our clients and company spokespeople look good on the frontlines; we’re never in the limelight ourselves.