I’m trying to get my brain around an article posted to Bulldog Reporter’s Daily Dog today.
The (nameless) author’s contention (as I understand it), is that PR pros are still focused on delivering information in a traditional media relations style, rather than adapting to the needs of the market.
“The current buzzwords are all about engagement, experience and influence – which would seem to imply a receiver-oriented approach to public relations. But if you look at most of what is being done in the name of journalism or public relations, it is one-way dissemination of messages seeking to inform, persuade or possibly entertain others in order to achieve return on investment.
So it is classic media relations even if we’ve swapped journalists for bloggers or we’re abandoning the press release for 140-character Tweets. There’s a message we’re trying to communicate and we focus on the medium as the means to achieve this. We aren’t really having mutually-beneficial conversations most of the time.”
I get the whole “mutually beneficial conversation” thing, but at the end of the day, isn’t PR (like other forms of marketing communication) about selling more stuff?
Most of us have mutually beneficial conversations everyday, but outside of a direct sales environment, how many of those conversations result in one of us buying a product, service or idea from the other?
It’s absolutely important to listen to the needs of the marketplace and responding accordingly, but that is the role of research and planning, whose job is to define our revenue opportunities and the audiences who are most likely to get us there, and our sales force, who are most engaged with our best customers and key prospects.
As PR pros, we are trying to drive a message that persuades and motivates a specific subset of the public to take a desired action—which could include “liking” us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or going to our Website to purchase our product or gather more information.
Over time, these engaged individuals can and do offer an excellent source of feedback, and we should by all means listen to them and respond accordingly. They most likely are the 20 percent who account for 80 percent of our sales.
But therein lies the difference between media relations and customer relationship management.
“If arguments for public relations as a relationship-oriented function are to be credible, we’d need to change our entire approach. Instead of looking at writing skills as the core competency, PR education should consider aspects of communication that encompass listening skills, negotiation and compromise.”
I disagree. When we have an actual relationship with a particular individual, public relations can and should enhance that relationship. And listening is a big part of that relationship.
But negotiation and compromise may ultimately prove counterproductive in that they dilute our brand message and open the door to confusion in the marketplace.