Is Public Relations obsolete?

Dinosaur below a red question mark


By Mickie Kennedy

Public relations was born in the days when train travel was still a novel and exciting thing.

Things have changed since then – businesses, consumers, and the entire public relations industry. It’s gone through many ups and downs and opinions from the general public, both good and bad. But like all business models, is the use of PR obsolete in this tech day and age?  

Definitely not, and it’s potentially much more important than ever before. This is because traditional means of reaching the public are going away and PR is stepping in to fill the cracks.

On top of that, roles traditionally performed by other departments are starting to fall to public relations pros. All this just means PR is practically vital to every business out there right now.


Filling the Cracks

Does it drive you crazy when people confuse marketing and public relations? I know it used to make me a little batty – in the past they were very clearly different things. Marketing was a one-way street that told customers what to buy, and PR was a two-way highway that let customer and businesses communicate on an equal level.

But in today’s world, can you blame folks for being confused? Everything is blending together like never before. A company can use a Facebook page simply as a marketing device to try and grab money if they want – and just post all day long about new products and deals without ever talking to the users. Voila – you have a marketing vehicle.

While we know the difference, how is the average consumer supposed to tell? It’s all the same to them – a company is reaching out in some way to them to get their money. Even if it’s their favorite brand they know there’s a bottom line at the end of the day.

Mobile is swiftly becoming an even bigger deal and it doesn’t look like it’s going to slow down any time soon. While mobile ads do work sometimes, the vast majority of consumers will just delete an app that contains too many ads. Social media will become even more of a big deal the more mobile takes over the planet.


Traditional Roles Breaking Down

Digital social media tree

So marketing and PR are quickly melding into a muddled singular entity, that’s nothing new. People have been confusing the two for years. What is a brand new development, though, is how much more public relations and social media pros are expected to do.

Take the above-mentioned Facebook page, or an official Twitter account for a brand.

If a customer comes onto the page with a simple question like “Where is this particular thing on your website?” and you answer them, what have you done? Is it PR or customer service? It was through a social media site, but it was a customer service question. So which is it?

That’s the thing – it’s a little bit of both. Ease of access to materials and rapid-fire day-to-day business means that more people are doing more things. It also means less confusion since fewer people are in the kitchen. If you’re already doing work on Facebook and someone asks a question, there’s no need to get a customer service agent involved. It saves time and causes less confusion, both of which are vital to running a sound business.

How important/relevant do you think PR will be in the future?


Mickie Kennedy guest blog postThis guest post was written by Mickie Kennedy, founder of eReleases Press Release Distribution Service, the online leader in affordable PR distribution since 1998. Grab your free copy of 8 Shocking Secrets Press Release Distribution Firms Don’t Want You to Know, a must-read for the PR professional. Follow eReleases on Google+PinterestFacebook and Twitter.




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