Media relations and PR: why oh why?

21 Sep

Stephen Waddington suggests that online searches are more valuable than press coverage as a promotional tool, so the PR business should change gear.

This reality, alas, hasn’t sunk into the UK PR industry yet, which still regards hard copy coverage as delivering the best value to clients when in reality web hits and increased search engine optimisation (SEO) is the way forward.

Andrew Smith adds a commentary on this, attacking the industry focus on news releases.

Given that no one could argue in favour of unproductive, wasteful PR tactics, the question must be asked why media relations retains such a prominent place in the PR toolkit in our disintermediated, Web 2.0 world. Here are some suggestions:

  • Media relations is the principal service that clients hire PR consultancies to provide, so there’s continued pressure on them to deliver ink and measure the thickness of cuttings. (In other words, there’s a procurement and client management problem).
  • Expressed another way, no other corporate function (eg marketing, HR, IT) has laid claim to media relations, leaving it unchallenged as a service delivered by PR. Contrast this with the turf wars over ownership of SEO, internal comms, events etc.
  • Given the low barriers to entering the online space, a tipping point is still needed to turn low level blog chatter into high profile campaigns. The traditional media (who also publish online) frequently provides this tipping point – so playing an important part of an online PR campaign.
  • Can so much experience simply be wrong? Just think of these recent campaigns and imagine how they could have reached public consciousness without the media – Apple iPhone, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Find Maddie, Jamie Oliver’s School Dinners campaign.

3 Responses to “Media relations and PR: why oh why?”

  1. Andrew Smith 21/09/2007 at 4:56 pm #

    >>Media relations is the principal service that clients hire PR consultancies to provide
    And yet, according to PR Week’s survey last year, the typical agency spends less than 12pc of its time on this….
    And press release writing accounts for less than 3pc – perhaps that’s why so many valueless releases get produced – to paraphrase Mark Twain, if more time was spent generating better quality releases, we’d have fewer of them, but producing better results?
    http://www.prweek.com/uk/search/
    article/600215/Feature-Time-spent/

  2. Daljit B 23/09/2007 at 8:51 am #

    I think this is one of the key debates facing the PR industry, but as you point out media relations can generate very strong search results so the two are by no means mutually exclusive.
    There are very obvious and simple steps such as optimising press release for search which many agencies are ignoring. Search agencies are increasingly filling this knowledge gap and as a result placing themselves in the perfect position for an assault on PR agency budgets.

  3. Lauren 23/09/2007 at 11:37 pm #

    I recently did a survey regarding small newspapers and their awareness of the social media press release. It wasn’t too surprising to find out that most were not aware of what a smpr is, but it was surprising to hear that they wish they did. Most of the newspaper editors that we spoke to believed that the various facets in a smpr would be much more beneficial to their stories. So, I guess that we won’t know the true value of social media until it is widespread throughout the media.

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