Dennis Howlett posted on his blog today an article titled PR is so over.
Please read it for yourself to garner the full extent of the piece, as I’d prefer to not post the entire thing here.
In the piece, Dennis argues that PR is dead because:
a) PRs are lazy – they don’t take the time to see what is his/her bag before pitching.
b) PR agencies are after retainers (keeping a client on a contract) for loads of cash, rather than results
c)Social Media is free and has the power to make PR redundant
Dennis finishes with “If you’re a professional considering PR then think carefully. Get past the Colgate smiles and sharp suits. Ask them what they really do. The answer will usually be laced in psychobabble.”
Now, god forbid I try to defend the industry i’ve been in for just 14 months. Dennis, the poor guy has been putting up with PRs for years and years and years, so probably knows alot more about the industry than I do or probably ever will.
However, I think that in his post Dennis is making sweeping generalisations. Now, I’m not deny that there are people in the PR industry who fit the Colgate smile, sharp suit stereotype,indeed, I’ve met a few of them.
But, there is a new generation of PRs coming through who cut throught the BS and won’t stand to be told to say X like Y to get Z result
So point by point I want to put my thoughts across…
a) PRs aren’t lazy – I work with some of the most dedicated people i’ve ever met, who stay in the office long after the hacks have gone home. They, nay WE, understand that journalists get pissed off by getting the wrong type of press release or e-shot sent their way, so we only send out stuff that we know you’ll at least talk to us about for a moment, before putting the phone down. We’re interested in what interests you so that you get the story you want and we get the results we want.
b)Yes agencies want retainers – how else can a business grow if it doesn’t have a regular source of income to allow it to employ more people? PRs are judged by results – we want quality break out coverage because it impresses the clients who wil hopefully make a short project a long term retainer. Plus it makes you proud to get a completely obscure client some really off the wall coverage, that can only be done by, again, speaking with the right journalist ie doing our homework.
c)Social media IS free but PR and social media can work hand in hand. Talking with and listening to a client’s customer is always beneficial to both parties because in the end the customer gets what he or she wants, and the client is retaining their custom, or at least, keeping the customer happy.
I don’t think PR is over. In fact i think that it is slowly, far too slowly in my opinion, reinventing itself to work with the likes of Twitter to make hacks lives easier aswell as ours.
I am bright eyed and bushy tailed, but so are a lot of my colleagues. They too are embracing the new technologies and using them to make PR-Journalist communication more real and less contrived. I may be biased because I’m in PR. But I’ve sat on the other side of the fence and been approached by PRs who ARE lazy in the Dennis Howlett model and yes it is annoying, but, these were old school flacks who thought that scatter gunning press releases would score. No, it doesn’t.
I don’t work like that, and wouldn’t want to work like that, it removes that human relationship and that is of course, half the fun.