There's some level-setting that needs to be done at the moment. Lots of people are out there trying to figure out the new media landscape. There are new tools, approaches, ways of communicating, new audiences to reach every day. Everyone is trying to make sense of, well, what makes sense for them, and is shaping the future while engaging in it. Kind of like building the car while you're driving it. I recently met with Tom Foremski and he makes this point in his recent post, http://www.siliconvalleywatcher.com/mt/archives/2009/09/some_observatio.php.
You can call it social, you can call it marketing, PR or digital -- at the end of the day, it's communication. Traditional PR is changing, evolving and it's morphing into something else. But let's be clear, there will always be a role for some kind of PR. All those, ahem, folks that are saying companies should stay away from PR agencies might be reminded about how upset they get when their companies don't get coverage. To some companies, this is and always will be, vital to their brand awareness and advocacy.
But this is not the point!!!
The point is that any effective communication must understand first the business or marketing problem he or she is trying to solve.
We now have the opportunity to solve those problems with a much more diverse and interesting set of communications approaches. Social media is surely one of them. So are digital/interactive services. We are so focused on the verbal brand, we must not forget about the visual experience. And yes, as long as there is media, there will be a role for PR in a traditional sense. We should be talking about how all companies and communicators should be reframing their objectives and programs using more and different means.
Talking about how PR is dead is very provocative, but it's not really all that helpful.