Monday, February 2, 2009

The Shifting Sands of PR

What if you held a press conference and nobody came? Or sent out a press release that nobody read? Or wrote an article, but there was nobody left to publish it?

These three staples of "traditional" public relations are in danger of becoming extinct. As more and more people choose to get their news and information on line, newspaper and magazine circulation continues to fall. Combine this with the economic pressures that are squashing advertising revenues and the result is a newsroom that is half empty, fewer reporters and less space to publish anything but the most essential news.

What does this mean to your organization's efforts to distribute news and information? New channels must be found or developed. And the best place to look is to the very source that is leading the charge away from traditional news media: the internet.

Instead of trying to use a third party distribution point (the media), we can now take our message direct to those whom we wish to reach. It is easy to see the potential benefits: clear communication of information without interference or interpretation, and the opportunity for immediate feedback or action.

The downside is, getting information out through the internet is hard work. In the past, if you could convince and editor to run your story, it would be seen by a wide audience. This "shotgun" distribution must now be replaced by a more narrowly targeted approach. The acquisition of e-mail addresses from clients and business contacts becomes essential, as does the requirement to provide good, solid and helpful information.

Content is king. If you have good information to share, using new media such as electronic newsletters, social media groups and blogs is an excellent way to keep in touch with customers and prospects directly. But know that people are quick to spot (and reject) an obvious sales pitch. Marketing must once again become a more subtle, long term process.

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