Imagine if the most valuable thing you could offer was close relationships with journalists. Not to say there isn’t power and potential in those — but imagine if that was what your whole proposition hinged upon in 2014.
I can’t work out which way the chicken and egg of this value in the PR industry started — but it’s still one of those things people talk about when they talk about PR. Even some great companies approach Augur expecting us to talk about the strong links we have with major editors.
I think this perception is one layer too superficial vs PR’s real potential today. It’s one of the things I talked about with Danny Whatmough on Digital Wake, our new semi-regular podcast about PR and technology (blame him prioritising his wedding over sitting with me in a soundproof room.) It also links up with Stephen Waddington’s recent #PRforPR campaign (more on that here.)
So what’s going on? And what about the voices out there in the PR industry who may be shouting “we’re good at the media relations thing, what’s so bad about that”?
Well, here’s the issue: we’re operating in a world where more or less all the marketing disciplines are converging on the same zone. Within that nexus, there’s one persistent priority. One point around which so much else revolves.
It’s the thing that comes before all the glitz and glamour of advertising, the chummy chatter of social or the obsessive optimisation of search.
PR can lead the charge in helping companies understand and articulate their Meaning.
PR fit for purpose
This is the opportunity. Because our industry has grown up sparring with the media, it has had a century’s head start in grappling with the scrutiny and cynicism of the journalistic mindset.
You couldn’t hope for a better training regime. Because PR has had to learn to harmonise with influential audiences for so long, it has become part of our way of operating. In the marketing multiplex, it defines the direction of our industry’s potential.
This is what I think we can focus on. Yes, journalists develop relationships with good PRs and yes there’s some value there. But they are the result of our real skill and specialisation: Identifying and amplifying a company’s meaning to tell its story, for whichever audience matters.
When it comes to propositions you can be proud of, I think that’s worth shouting about.