Even though PR is over 100 years old, I can only comment from experience on the last 20 years. As I walk down memory lane, from my first job at Padilla Spear Burdick & Beardsley (now Padilla Spear) until today, I think PR has grown in a number of ways.
Let me give you a little comparison – PR in 1988 vs. PR 2.0 in 2009. When I started as an assistant account executive in 1988, here were my responsibilities:
- Updating Bacon’s books (Bacon’s in now called Cision Media Relations Resources) with print and broadcast media contacts. I literally used to lick and stick labels into a book to keep the executives, who pitched the client stories, in touch with the appropriate journalists.
- Creating media lists by hand and then typing them on a Brother typewriter. I would take the time to call each and every outlet to verify the media person’s contact information.
- Coordinating media tours for clients in different cities (whether they were executives from large financial firms to authors)
- Reading as many business/financial and industry related print publications to keep my executives updated on their clients’ industries.
- Compiling quarterly clips books by cutting up clips and neatly arranging and gluing them on a page with the proper identification.
- Drafting traditional press releases (AP inverted triangle style of writing) and routing them for approval.
- Pitching media for credible third party endorsements (always trying to land that top tier publication).
- Helping with the coordination of press events for new product launches.
Does the list above sound familiar? Most of my responsibilities were tasks pre-technology and were focused on obtaining third party endorsements (pitching the media) for clients. There was no video, podcasts and RSS feeds and no blogging or social networks for clients to interact directly with customers. Come to think of it, we didn’t have these great social media tools because there was no World Wide Web; it wasn’t even born. If memory serves me, the closest thing my office had to transporting information was a CPT data transfer system (from our office in NYC to headquarters in Minneapolis), via a mainframe computer.
Thankfully, PR has advanced, and we as an industry we are much more technically savvy. Here are the PR account executive’s responsibilities today, and even though traditional media pitching is still present, several new tasks include:
- Skillfully developing media databases by using proprietary software programs via the Internet.
- Doing research in the different social networks to gather competitive information, customer feedback and to monitor conversations (research is done with Google alerts, TweetBeeps, Radian6, BuzzLogic, or any number of programs that allow you to observe the blogosphere) .
- Scouring blogs and looking for opportunities for clients to get involved in the dialogue.
- Assisting with the editorial content for blogs by reviewing relevant topics and by checking daily news feeds.
- Working with monitoring services to obtain links to endorsements and also scans of relevant client coverage for client reports.
- Building profiles on social networks (i.e. on MySpace, Facebook or Twitter)
- Identifying and following new media influencers to target for FYI types of communication
- Gathering information and interactive media to create Social Media Releases.
- Coordinating influencer events to include bloggers who will provide valuable feedback on the launch of new products/services and who will blog and/or tweet as the event is taking place.
What a difference! I think PR has changed for the better. Our industry has advanced. It will continue to grow and change as the media landscape is no longer just for traditional journalists and content is generated by consumers and new media influencers. PR has not only grown, when you compare the differences between then and now, it’s all grown up and is an even more valuable resource to any organization.
PR 2.0 helps to facilitate meaningful conversations and builds stronger relationships, not only with influencers but also directly with a brand’s customers. I’ll never forget the past, but I’m much happier with the PR 2.0 of today and the PR that the future will bring. What was your PR past like and are you happier with PR 2.0 today?