I got lost yesterday on the way to a meeting. I called my client and she kindly led me through a part of the city I don't know very well. (Bear with me, this is going somewhere).
While she “accompanied” me, she told me a story about her beginnings in public relations. She explained that she had gotten pretty good with finding her way around the city because when she was first in PR, she would drive press releases to all of the local media outlets.
Let me repeat that, she would DRIVE press releases to the local media outlets.
Don't you think that this kind of interaction fostered understanding between the media and the public relations professional? If nothing else, you could pick each other out in a crowd.
The telephone, the fax machine and now e-mail have completely depersonalized the experience and made PR practitioners lazy. Understandably since you can hardly bill a client eight hours of driving time to hand deliver press releases.
However, that is how it was done back in the day! Somehow I bet there were more relevant news stories delivered to the newsrooms when you had to drive them there.
So here is my buried lead: Social media allows us to connect directly with our stakeholders. We can now “show up” in their computers when they search for information, and the tools allow us to interact with them if they want too. But in the early days of PR, it was all about showing up. Where did we go wrong?
My client “showed up” in the newsroom on a regular basis, had a few conversations along the way and connected directly with the media. The media then connected her to her stakeholders.
I am not fond of the moniker PR 2.0 because I think that public relations was always about facilitating two-way conversations. However, we now have the technology that allows us to take this one step further.
Unfortunately, somewhere along the line we got stuck behind our desk. Social media gives us the tools to get out in the world a bit. If you want to call that PR 2.0, be my guest, but I just call it using all of the tools to get the job done!
PR 2.0 Essentials Guide
A Letter to Doubting PR Practitioners