The U-turn in Public Relations by Paula Gallacher

the-u-turn-in-public-relations-by-paula-gallacherThe U-turn in Public Relations: Why the media has to change its ways.

The entire purpose of Public Relations is to communicate with the public, whether at a government, organisational or individual level. Therefore, it only makes sense that if we now all turn to our computers to talk to each other, then journalists and PR companies need to do the same.

If you mention the word ‘Twitter’ to a room of PR people, I’m sure it would generate a huge buzz of opinions. After all, it is one of the most fundamental changes in how media works today. Instead of sending out press releases, the publicist can now just send a tweet to a journalist through their twitter account with a link to a press release, landing page, video or social media experiment, and instantly have the journalists attention.

On the other hand Journalists tweet links to their stories attracting a world-wide audience to popular stories and sending them into an orbit of success that they may not normally have achieved out of writing for a local journal, magazine or newspaper.

I’m sure if you went to University to study journalism and PR then the course work wouldn’t have changed drastically since the Twitter mania started several years ago - just an extra chapter in your textbook. The foundations of public relations is the same, we still need to communicate with the public, it is simply the methods of how we do this that has changed. Perhaps Educators need to re-write the books to today's new platforms but I am sure the expense in doing so has limited the value of education in this field.

Traditionally, the number of newspapers sold or viewings was the indicator of performance - but today it’s all about search engine optimization and not relying on a one-way communication channel to get a good story out there. A high ranking press release on Google can have as much of a success in getting published as the traditional development of a media list and distribution via email, fax or however one chooses to get their release out.

With so many new outlets to get your writing out there, there has been a massive increase in competition in a cyber-world where anyone with an opinion is now a ‘news reporter.’ Heck, I don’t have a degree in PR yet here I am giving my opinion and if enough people click on this blog, I could potentially be the number one result on a Google search on the matter. An expert in the making! Does this make me the number one ‘journalist’ or 'blogger'? Perhaps not in my mind... but for those who stumble upon a high ranking blog or press release, the opinion may differ.

So how do you ensure that your press release or your article is opened over the thousands of others available from all over the world in 0.15 seconds?  Consistent, relative and entertaining posts are what people are interested in on Twitter, but what about in a blog or perhaps Facebook? If people find what you have to say interesting then they will keep following. Become boring and they’ll drop you without a second thought.

So is this a good or a bad thing? They always say healthy competition is a good thing in business and I agree it is. Blogging and tweeting gives PR a whole new lease of life and after all, communicating with the public is the goal and with over 200 million activated Twitter accounts - that’s a lot of people who potentially could be reading your work.