Old and new media

I’be been pondering the challenge Richard has set in his latest post – trying to decide whether or not social media means the death of PR.  The huge effort that the Obama campaign is still putting into new media (yes, I know not all of it can be defined as “social media”) seems to suggest that for PRs this is just a new channel – albeit  of a new and so-far unpredicatable type – which they can use if they know what they’re doing.  There’s a piece in today’s Observer which details the enormous returns Obama got from his very well crafted online campaigning which tends to suggest that, IF the message you are trying to spread resonates with the audience you are trying to reach AND members of that audience use social media networks to communicate with each other, then social media can be a means of spreading a PR message which is exponentially more powerful than more traditional methods.  So the answer to Richard’s question is : no,  as long as the PR is adept at finding messages which resonate – and that’s always been the trick that good PRs know how to work.  Right?

My pondering has been interrupted by my niggling doubts as to why Arianna Huffington, queen of bloggers, is advertising a proper, old-fashioned  book she has written about how to be a blogger.  Surely, if you want to be a blogger you already know that such things exist, so you’ve seen them online, so you are web savvy enough to use the internet.  So, wouldn’t you use google to find a site that tells you…  I appreciate that won’t have the Arianna Huffington seal of approval on it, and I’m quite cheered to see that books still count, even on HuffPo but I can’t stop wondering about who on earth is going to read this.  What have I missed?


2 responses to “Old and new media

  1. I think the shriller voices proclaiming the death of PR do so because they associate PR with one-way (‘shout’) communications, not two-way conversations.

    Yet most of us involved in PR have always championed our ability to listen, not just to talk.

    You do well to bring the Obama campaign into this, but paradoxically the Obama team was much more closed and controlling in its handling of the media than was the McCain campaign. It seems that social media was a good tool for reaching the electorate directly.

    PR is alive, but it’s finding the media ecosystem a much more complex space in which to operate.

  2. Completely agree that you can’t shout and you can’t assume that your audience won’t want to join in. The “recipients” of communication now have the power to bite back very fast, and can take the conversation into all kinds of areas you can’t control. There’s a case study of this on propenmic today – an ad campaign for babyslings which has caused such a furore on social networks of mums that the ad is being pulled. It does seem to me that that’s just bad PR though. The campaign would have flopped whether or not the social networks had existed to maul it, it just would have flopped more slowly.

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