Jenn Whinnem brings wonderful style and insight to my blog; I’m happy to have her today fitting nicely into my series on defining PR. Thanks, Jenn, for letting the public relations profession win you over; welcome aboard!
A few weeks ago, I blogged about the restaurant blogger who slammed the PR industry in the New York Times (no more link love from us). You can read that here if you’re so inclined.
What followed from that post I could not have predicted. While I merely wanted to point out the contradictions in the guy’s post, it was a seemingly throwaway comment that captured everyone’s imagination: I said I was not a PR person. This led to quite a few people discussing “what is public relations, anyway?” which led to Jayme spearheading the charge of redefining PR with her first of 11 blog posts in the series to date launching with “What Is PR?”
Many tweets and comments followed – and thank you to everyone who has contributed to this quest. My participation was minimal, because I felt I was here to learn. I read everything and said little.
Then, this past Friday, I went to lunch with my co-worker, M, who is a seasoned PR pro, to talk about how we will work together (I’m new, you see). I asked her straight up, please tell me what you do! As she started to describe her media strategy, the plans that resulted, her various tactics…well what do you know, Jayme was right.
I could see how she considered me a PR person. While I had yet to provide an executive with talking points for a radio interview, I had provided an executive with talking points for a meeting with stakeholders. I had strategized on messaging, selecting the appropriate channels for those messages, etc., etc.
While I was considering all of this, I read Elizabeth Sosnow’s fantastic and thought-provoking “5 Ways that PR is Evolving In Spite of Itself.” Elizabeth discusses the impact of digital on PR, and asks “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?” (Fellow PR pros, you owe it to yourself to read her post and consider what you’re offering your clients).
This got me thinking – perhaps the reason I didn’t recognize myself as PR is because I’m new PR. My communications career has been solidly focused on the digital, and much less on the print side of things. I’ve never worked on a campaign that didn’t include email or a website. I know about ten different content management systems and some HTML, have a grasp of SEO principles, and am a big-time web-based tool geek. Print, television, radio – that was PR. Not what I did.
But Jayme and Elizabeth are right: PR has expanded into the web and now includes me. As it continues to expand, the rules of the game continue to evolve. And this leaves me with questions: PR veterans, how has the game changed for you? How are you bringing your clients along for the ride? Are they understanding the importance of social? Recent PR grads, how are you finding that the world differs from what your professors taught you?
Nevertheless, I’m happy to join all of you in PR.
(image credit: TopRank.com)