I know I’m not the only person out there who has a true appreciation for the traditional values of Public Relations. And, at the same time, I have high admiration and believe in the practices of newer social media communication and PR 2.0. It’s easy to see how traditional PR people view the profession and preserve an industry that has done so much good for many businesses and organizations globally. However, as we witness how our markets change right before our eyes, we realize that businesses can’t control communication. We learn to shift our thinking and be flexible; these markets move us to converse directly with customers and other stakeholders in a different way; in a manner that these groups want to receive communication. It’s a transition in PR and even if it’s slow it’s an important one.
So why is there a struggle to accept a natural progression of communication? There’s so much information available that says PR 2.0 and social media applications are the way that we should be communicating in Web communities. In my opinion, I think many traditional PR folks, who have been around for years and serving different industries (perhaps outside of high tech) realize that there are alternative methods to reaching groups beyond the newer direct to consumer methods or blogger relations. For example, they still want to keep their media contacts close. They know the media influences the talk in the blogosphere just as the blogosphere influences the media and how they report their stories. I think issues surface when groups of PR people (from opposite ends of the spectrum) are talking at each other and not talking to each other. When this happens, no one is really listening.
Why do we have to be so black and white? I think there’s a grey area that many people (whether it’s the traditional or futurist) are missing. This grey area, as simplistic as it sounds, can make everyone happy. It takes what we know from the past, using those tactics when appropriate, and also incorporates the best advice and use of social media applications to speak to people directly in their web communities or to converse with influential bloggers who can reach other people for you. I think that whether you are communicating and building relationships whether it’s face-to -face, with the media, bloggers or directly with your customers online, it’s PR. We should all take the best of the profession and work together to educate how all industry sectors can benefit from the experience of both worlds.
I think we can meet in the middle, what do you think?