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PR 2.0 is Free

It really isn't, but it is freely distributed. That is the benefit of it when intended as communications to all stakeholders. Good PR comes at a cost - research, the experience of knowing what's important, the relationships we build to offer content that people want to make part of their lives. New media helps do the rest - it helps reinforce the publics' decision to pay attention to you and your business.

Will public relations continue to become more high profile in the year to come?

In its most basic definition, public relations is about helping organizations and individuals communicate with the people who are interested in them. Is this the new audience? It makes me uncomfortable to assume that audience means the people I want to talk with, unless I have done my part in attracting them by providing value and showing integrity of purpose.

The role of connectors used to be played chiefly by mainstream media journalists and editors. The reality today is that we have nearly enough time to execute our work. We find time and attention to read trusted sources - the new connectors - which are more and more fragmented. I think new media have changed the way we consume information - they are not just a new mode of transportation, so to speak.


Scoble and Israel wrote about three phases of the Web:

1. The age of Surf (e.g. Yahoo web directory)
2. The age of Search (e.g. Google)
3. The age of Syndication (e.g. RSS, Internet Explorer 7)

We are moving into the stage where syndication and aggregation are taking new forms. FriendFeed, for example, is being used as both, plus as a micro blogging tool. What we consume is still directly related to what we care about and value, but today we are less uniform mass, more individuals with preferred listening channels.

Yet, I do not think this conversation is about technology at all. Not for the recipients on this end of the conversation, not in the least. However, I still think that PR practitioners have a little way to go on making their end of the attention/time commitment work for them and their customers.

From where I sit, many still do not know how to use email effectively - never mind FriendFeed, or Twitter. How can the pitch become more an invitation for a deeper conversation instead of a shotgun approach? Could PR professionals begin to leverage technology to their advantage? For example by building efficient data bases and mining them efficiently?

Today's press coverage may be more about Google search ranking than media placements; success comes when we discuss issues and trends more than product placements. It was never about the analysis of press clippings; good public relations has always been about attitudinal research.

More conversation, less persuasion. PR 2.0 may move freely through media, it most certainly requires thoughtful preparation and consideration for it to be a benefit to both its creators and its intended recipients. Agree/disagree? What am I missing?

Join The Conversation

  • Dec 31 Posted 8 years ago ValeriaMaltoni funny, you reminded me of a colleague who worked in the energy and natural resources business (Total) - he had stories about Texas!

    Provided the right context and content that people want to interact with, things do spread. There's a whole conversation here about weak ties in networks. I will spare you, for the moment.

    Thank you for reading and commenting and Happy New Year to you.

  • Dec 31 Posted 8 years ago JerryShirk (not verified) I did see them. But I overlooked them. I am not a pr professional; I work in energy and natural resources and follow public relations and follow the web because I am part of an approval process. The incremental return you mention sounds a lot like the folks who bet on the long tail. I paid for my MBA working as an roughneck outside Odessa, TX. When people are too nice too often out in the oil patch you start to wonder if its just "fake nice."  
  • Dec 31 Posted 8 years ago ValeriaMaltoni Maybe you did not see the part where I say it really isn't free? From the post "Good PR comes at a cost - research, the experience of knowing what's important, the relationships we build to offer content that people want to make part of their lives." I also talk about making effective use of technology -learning to put it to the service of the content, etc.

    I just received a very good pitch from a PR agency and will be writing about what they did right. Yes, it took a bit more time up front on their part, but thanks to that investment, the time and format of the information will be spread by me as well - and it might/could be picked up by others, thus making the initial investment pay off. There is a point where the "time cost" has an incremental return. Does that help in understanding where I'm coming from?

    I think being nice and good to people should be part of being professional, don't you? Recession or no recession.





  • Dec 31 Posted 8 years ago JerryShirk (not verified) Maybe you might take a look at the "time is money" part of your construct about what is "free".  During the first internet bubble, Al Gore never said the "Information Highway" would be free, and it wasn't. Internet users pay out via time intensive sweat equity as they have done in your social media construct, even in its "syndication" section. PR in an age of "social media" may be free, but it is time intensive.  And don't forget, what they aren't telling us on the "Mad Men" series... that PR has always been viewed as the poor sister of more glamourous advertising, because PR is time intensive.  Human time is required to set up feed readers to ship and/or pick up what is being sent out. Then comes more human time to set up data mining, semantic web and the sentiment stuff done by machines. Using the tools as building blocks for a pr or online marketing strategy is the win one can walk away from here. As for the getting people to talk, the conversational marketing part. Emily Post and Miss Manners would both agree that if you want people to give you something for free (like their buying preferences) you need to be nice to them. And in the recession marketing arena, it costs less to do that with social media, than with expensive ads. 
  • Dec 30 Posted 8 years ago ValeriaMaltoni Small world moment. The mid Atlantic US marketing director for Vistage is a dear friend. OK, I do know a lot of people. Still, interesting that you would mention the organization. Guess it's working well for you and your business.

    Let's step back for a moment and consider - social media is just tools. The strategy needs to be your business plan. Communications is a technology, too. It's what you do with it, the gesture, so to speak, and what you see others doing that counts. In the end it's about what people do - social media allows you to see what they do, listen to what they say, experience the interactions. There is no control - forget control. I'm made of Teflon, there is no marketing to me as a consumer anymore.

    BUT - there are meaningful interactions. It's not truly about the information, it's about the interaction. New media is a way for people to connect for those purposes. How about brands programming for channels instead of advertising in them? Think TweetDeck - it facilitates experiences and ends up being the "board" so to speak over which the action plays, instead of buying space on it.

    Might you pay a company or person who helps you connect with other players and interact with them? Does it come together better now? 

    I'll check out The Hollow Men. Good discussion, thank you!



  • Dec 30 Posted 8 years ago SmartSelling I was being a bit factitious about being faceless…

    To clarify my comments about the tools – I’m not a PR person – so I look at tools like PRWeb and etc as being a suitable equivalent to a PR person. Why would I say this? Well, if I put my funny looking technophile/social media fan/business owner’s hat on for a minute and I look at PR firms/practitioners – I don’t see what value they bring to table in the context of their current business model (i.e. I pay a PR firm thousands of dollars per month to ‘maybe’ get my business into the mainstream press). If I want/need to get information out to my community or to the public I have greater faith in my ability to do this via our social media strategy than I would if I relied on a PR firm.

    As an Australian member of Vistage, when I talk to my peers I plead with them to forget about traditional PR and even marketing and embrace social media. I believe if companies get their social media strategy right, they’ll have better and more meaningful control over information, their community, and their brand.

    So in essence I agree with you that the model needs reinvention. I read the post you referenced and agree with Christine. If you look at her expertise she’s essentially a maven in the context of how Gladwell describes the role in “The Tipping Point”. Is that the role for PR firms in the future? It was interesting that Christine referenced PerkettPR as I heard Christine Perkett speak at the New Marketing Symposium in Boston back in October. She seems to be pushing a similar line of thought as to what PR needs to be in the future. 

    If that’s the case then why wouldn’t the whole model get turned on its head? Why am I as a business paying a PR firm when under this (new) model the media company should be paying the PR firm? Doesn’t the value of information now reside with the person or firm who can best mash/assemble it into a relevant and meaningful outcome?

    I hope I haven’t rambled too much

    PS. If you get a chance check out the Australian TV series – The Hollow Men. It’s a very Australian and funny look at the idea of faceless crowd trying to control what people hear, think, and believe…

  • Dec 30 Posted 8 years ago ValeriaMaltoni I thought the PR firm was quite faceless today - the whole distribution mechanism and pitching model needs a good reinvention.  I hosted a fantastic guest post by the former senior account manager of my PR agency who states just the opposite. We engage with individuals. My PR team is part of my team.

    I'm not following you as to your question about PR tools - you seem to imply they are good in one paragraph and that they render the PR practitioner obsolete in the following one. Do you see your role as that of collector of press clippings or that of analyst/researcher of attitude and relationship builder?


  • Dec 30 Posted 8 years ago SmartSelling

    Hi Valeria,

    I have to admit I’m missing something here. I work primarily in the B2B world engaging with companies that have a strong sales focus. Even here I can see the role of PR changing.

    Where I’m confused or missing something is whether there is a role for the PR firm/practitioner in the future? Or does the PR firm morph into a faceless, behind the scenes manipulator of information – trawling blogs and forums spruiking a client’s good news story?

    What role do you see PR sites like PRWeb and PRhere playing in PR2.0? Both sites offer cost effective distribution systems and even help the non-PR person assemble good, effective communication pieces.

    If you take the technology angle further and consider tools like Technorati, Blog Catalog, Digg, I’m even more confused as to where PR is going to be in the future…



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