Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Does PR need a new name?

When I started in PR, I worked in arts and entertainment and called myself a publicist. And I was proud of the title.

Then I switched to the corporate agency side and became a PR consultant who practised media relations. It didn't take me long to realize those two were pretty close to the same thing. In fact, while we offer many types of communications counsel, media relations/publicity has, for a long time, been the cornerstone of what we do.

But these days with MSM in transition, it doesn't take an Amazing Kreskin to predict that our comfortably familiar landscape is fading. And great chunks of it are just plain disappearing; morphing into something new.

So with PR in rapid-evolutionary-mode (REM), perhaps it's time to dream big and rethink what what we do and where we're heading.

And for me (and many other people) that means a shift to social media. I have to say direct-to-influencer connecting has re-energized the profession, encouraged us to learn (and enabled me to teach) and caused us to look at what we do through a less-filtered lens. It's also given the profession a voice and helped us step out of the shadows.

But in order to truly change, we need to rid ourselves of our shackles - notably our reliance on pure media relations. Sure, that will always be a part of our repertoire. But if we want to survive and thrive, we need to do so much more:

  • Really start listening (that means opening our minds)
  • Get better at telling visual stories
  • Become less text-reliant, while still being the guardians of grammar and voice - we can't ever forget how to write with clarity and style
  • Master new techniques - video/audio production, designing and coding a website
  • Join communities, participate and connect
  • Issue a full-on challenge to marketing and advertising. Maybe I'm biased, but I feel we really are the naturals to understand and get around in this space.

So what should we call this new entity? Truth is, I'm not sure.

Social media? I like it, but there's a day where that could seem faddish. Digital relations? Sounds like PR for the AI set. Social relations? A bit too much like someone who plans parties for the DAR. Social networking? Too much like self-help. Networked relations? Are your cousins on Facebook too?

Part of me still likes the term public relations - that is if we go back to its original definition.

Or maybe we need a completely new moniker. And if so, do you have any ideas what it should be called?

5 comments:

Victoria Procunier said...

Martin - great post. However, I was wondering what MSM stood for?

Anonymous said...

Hi Martin - This is a fantastic post! I really like the term "digital relations." Did you come up with that?

Michelle
www.careeredge.ca/CEOblog

Martin Waxman said...

Thanks for the comments.

Victoria, MSM stands for mainstream media.

Michelle, I hadn't heard the digital relations term before, but don't think I came up with it. In fact, a quick Google search showed there's a Canadian agency by that same name...

Gini Dietrich said...

Martin, you know I think this approach is really smart. We've been talking for at least 18 months on how much our industry is changing and what we need to do to maintain our relevance. I think the slow death of MSM and the economy have quickly pushed us into being innovative. I applaud you for this!

cruise said...

I think the slow death of MSM and the economy have quickly pushed us into being innovative.
profit