Public relations versus search marketing – the future of PR in an online world

SimonGeneral5 Comments

The latest white paper from Daryl Willcox makes interesting reading for public relations professionals.

It challenges the PR profession to consider how it should respond to the growth in online communications. It also talks about the threat that search engine marketing poses to online public relations.

Daryl does make some generalisations about the public relations profession that I don’t agree with, particularly given how public relations practitioners are actively claiming social media as a PR tool for business.

However he does make some valid points about the lack of leadership for online public relations from the industry’s professional body, the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR).

The white paper is available to download here.

5 Comments on “Public relations versus search marketing – the future of PR in an online world”

  1. Daryl Willcox

    I very reluctantly made generalisations in my whitepaper about the public relations profession. I appreciate that there are many out there who, like yourself, have embraced online media. But regretfully my experience is that the majority of public relations professionals are ignoring the issue, thus my generalisations.
    There are of course the public relations practitioners who are very vocal about social media, but I believe the biggest collective voice claiming social media as a PR tool for business is actually the search marketing industry.

  2. simon

    Thanks for the comment Daryl.

    I’d be interested in whether you think “mainstream” marketers are embracing social media, or whether the drive is coming from the search marketing community.

  3. Heather Yaxley

    The search marketing community obviously has a vested interest and understanding of many aspects of social media.

    But I think the challenges of social media affect traditional thinking for those in PR and in marketing – including some in the “search” fraternity.

    People who “get it” can be found in all areas – but there are also the pretenders who talk about social media, yet still promote “control”, those in denial or “too busy” mode, and the “look at me” folk who go gung ho into social media only to require crisis management as it all goes pear shaped.

  4. Daryl Willcox

    I agree with Heather in that there are people who ‘get it’ in many marketing diciplines.
    Search marketers are an open-minded bunch by nature and therefore have been quick to see the opportunities social media represent, so I think they are generally ahead of the game.
    What worries me is that ‘traditional’ public relations people will find themselves desparately seeking online public relations know-how when it is too late – in a crisis situation or when client starts demanding instant results.

  5. Heather Yaxley

    Daryl is right – and something that a lot of crisis management hasn’t recognised is that the old “linear” methods of looking at problems don’t work online. It is harder to develop a simple plan to put into action when the fan is hit.

    A situation doesn’t build slowly to a crescendo anymore, it can explode with shrapnel all over cyberspace and the blogosphere. Numerous active publics emerge, with activists and those with other agendas getting involved. These can be likened to insurgents as they don’t respond in the ways that the text books or previous experience predicts.

    Facts and responsibilities aren’t necessarily clear and many organisations may be implicated by speculation, rumour or “fact-checking” – the recent fuel contamination crisis is a prime example.

    A crisis may jump from online to offline and back, dance around or snowball. Or it can just splutter and die – probably to re-emerge later as what’s online stays online.

    I think there is a lot to learn from chaos and complexity theories in modern crisis management. Engaging genuinely with social media and participating in network communications enables organisations to build advocacy which is vital in a modern crisis. Social media experience also builds the ability to adapt with flexibility – and the immediacy that new media requires.

    This is an exciting opportunity for those in the communications/relationship/reputation/brand arena. I’m not too concerned actually for those that don’t “get it” – the fittest will survive

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