The PR Guru

April 12, 2012


In my quieter moments I often think about the future of public relations and PR companies in general. Sad, I know, but true!

Unfortunately PR has got its claws into me now! It’s something I’m very passionate about, and something I want to still be around in 50+ years time.

The industry is facing a number of challenges at the moment, most notably the increasing competition for marketing spend, and the decline of the traditional media. But our biggest challenge is defining the term ‘public relations’ and showing it’s more than just getting your face in the paper.

This is something we’ve struggled with from Day One, something we’ve never really communicated to the public at large. If we don’t get to the bottom of this, PR could be increasingly marginalised in years to come.

PR needs to be more direct, more measurable.

While newspapers, magazines and other traditional media outlets will continue to downsize or disappear, the proliferation of the web and digital marketing will continue and this offers us an opportunity. It will enable us to generate coverage more quickly, in more titles than before, and have a greater impact on traffic to client websites.

As my colleague Dan Winchester says, we need to embrace search engine optimisation: “SEO is increasingly about building media and blog links, and driving social signals. PR companies are well-placed to be doing this. And getting your client to the top of Google could well be more valuable than conventional coverage.”

We must also develop our offering to communicate directly with our clients’ stakeholders, making greater use of social and new media, email and the good old telephone. Podcasting, viral gaming and film are all concepts we have to consider and add into the mix.

Miki Haines-Sanger, from Golden Goose PR, said: “A large part of our role is to rely on our ability to listen and interact with them in the same way that they talk to one another: through social media and networking. 

“Whether they are spending all their time on websites or forums however, or within family or community groups, people will still consume the news via instant news alerts, radio, tv and publications (print or digital) and we can’t forget that the voices that carry the news – whether it’s citizen journalists, columnists or news readers – need to be informed of relevant and non-commercial messages. 

“That is where PR shows its true value.” 

The beauty of PR is it’s subtlety, but that’s also it’s downfall. We must continue to embrace that, while also providing better value for money for our clients.

The only way we can do that is by continuing to evolve and demonstrating the impact of our campaigns more effectively.

I’ll leave the last word to Dave Morgan: “If you think it’s just about getting coverage in newspapers, then yep, maybe PR is dead because newspapers won’t be around forever.

“If you think it’s about enhancing the reputation of your client then nope, it’s probably not dead as long as there’s still some clients who care about their reputation.”

It’s going to be an interesting few years in the world of PR, that’s for sure.

Thanks to Dan, Miki and Dave for their contributions.



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