Yesterday’s post on Silicon Valley Watcher about media and PR is packed with questions and implications and a few points worth challenging. First, why no disruption in PR if there’s such a disruption in mainstream media? Well, maybe it’s not a disruption, but there’s certainly a groundswell building in PR. We’re all growing, but not just in response to a demand for old-school PR. Instead, many of us have expanded our services to include new media advocacy, creative services and even interactive design, so we’re eating a bigger piece of the marketing pie. We’re all hiring because we’re doing new, more and better things and looking for the people with the appetite and aptitude to do those things. And don’t forget that PR is not limited to media relations – we guide companies through major business changes; we work with investors, analysts, customers, partners; we help companies slice the hype and talk in terms that the world at large will understand (rather than speeds, feeds, features and jargon).
Second, to Tom's question “if companies know that mainstream media is inefficient at advertising and therefore of less value in helping to drive revenues…why do they believe there is great value in being mentioned in the mainstream media?” What’s ignored here are the differences between advertising and PR. Yes, advertising dollars may be going more to search engine marketing than traditional print media. But after finding a company through a search, most people will still look for some kind of third party credibility in mainstream media whether it be a respected blog or a print article. PR is also a heck of a lot cheaper than advertising. And mainstream media coverage is not just about selling more products and services. Mention in the mainstream media influences investors, challenges the competition, contributes to overall awareness, and you’re right, it feeds the ego a bit too.
Finally, to the comment that “at some point companies will realize that the ROI on being mentioned in a story in the Wall Street Journal or New York Times, or in trade publications, makes little difference to their bottom line.” It’s always been tough for the PR industry to tie results to revenue – often because companies don’t have the measurement systems in place. But we have companies that can tie a prospect or new deal to a specific article, and of course metrics that show huge spikes in website traffic following a print article.
Good stuff Tom, you got us going. I would argue that we’re not all going about our business the same way we were a year ago. I can’t think of one agency that hasn’t built a new practice, hosted a workshop, started a blog, hired an “expert” or at least scratched their heads in response to the groundswell. That’s almost a disruption – just not the kind that eliminates jobs or threatens margins. Stay tuned – the groundswell is building.