As you may have seen last week, the FT published a story titled `PR and news boundaries are being redrawn’ and it was refreshing to read a piece on the PR industry, written by someone outside of the sector, that focused on a future beyond media relations alone.
The piece by Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson overviews the evolution of PR and highlights the development of press release distribution services such as PR Newswire and BusinessWire. These services have a reputation as a channel to reach journalists, but are now being re-born as content distribution platforms.
This change mirrors the way the PR industry is changing as a whole, and this is now beginning to be understood from a wider business perspective.
In my opinion, the media relations tag attached to PR, or should I say shackled to PR, has limited its growth and wider potential as a strategic communications advisor. The PR industry should never have been defined by one tactic alone, and in fairness PRs should not have been willing to go along with the hacks / flacks story. This single minded approach contributed to PR’s slow reaction to the digital and social opportunities of the past 10 years, partly because it had been guilty of misunderstanding the relevance.
The simple truth is that PR has the potential to build the story of a brand, and by story I don’t mean misleading the market in the time honoured tradition of `leading solutions provider of industry x’, nor do I mean developing stories in relevant media to convince audiences that brand x is the one they should choose.
I simply mean understanding a brand, its offering and its industry, and translating that understanding into conversations supported by useful content that can help it to communicate the brand’s true potential and vision.
The tactical implementation of that story telling is really where the industry has been hung up for too long, but the PR industry’s strength is that it can build and tell the story, regardless of the method in which it is delivered.
This isn’t a question of tactics, the story is the interesting element, it’s the story that builds interest in a brand, it’s the story that drives conversation and it’s the story that will bring results.
But I digress, back to the piece, which for me came to life in the final paragraph:
“Producing readable, watchable corporate content will not be easy. It will also require much closer integration of advertising, digital marketing, PR and investor relations. But search and social media trends suggest corporate content will only grow. Whether media outlets like it or not, every company will have to become a content company.”
Sweet words of wisdom.
Quality content delivered by the integration of so called `channels’ that can no longer live separate from each other. That for me is the future, don’t focus too heavily on the implementation but tell the story.
After all, isn’t that what the PR industry should have been doing all along?