by Dan Ward
Another day, another article discussing how social media makes traditional PR less relevant. The latest comes from Chris Hogg at Digital Journal, who opines that “social media relations is more important than good PR.”
Chris’ article, which continues to advance the stereotype of public relations as a “let’s pitch the news media” business, suffers from a serious disconnect.
He correctly notes that “forward-thinking companies should have conversations with their audience and customers rather than talking at them,” but seems to believe that this is somehow separate from “good PR.”
Connecting with the audiences that are important to your success is the essence of good public relations.
Almost daily, I see similar posts and tweets declaring that social media makes public relations less important than ever, but as my colleague Roger Pynn wrote on this blog more than a year ago, the opposite is true.
Sure, social media allows companies to talk instantly and interactively with their customers and communities. But does that mean they know what to say, when to say it and how to say it effectively in order to drive action? Access to a medium of communication does not guarantee understanding of its use.
And yes, traditional publicity has become less important as the media landscape changes. But “good” PR pros have been advising clients for years to look beyond publicity to connect with their audiences. We advocated such strategies long before Facebook and Twitter were invented, and will continue to advise clients to pursue a multi-pronged approach to communication.
Social media has changed everything, but Marshall McLuhan’s famous statement is still wrong. The medium is NOT the message. Message must always come first, no matter whether the medium is a hand-written letter or a 140-character tweet. Crafting the right message and choosing the right medium to influence opinion and motivate action (and sometimes deciding when not to speak at all) … that’s “good PR.”