I keep finding myself reading articles on the world of PR and how the PR industry is dead as we know it. When I started reading, I was admittedly slightly concerned, however, the more I delve into the subject and use insight from my own experience I come to realise quite the opposite. PR is not dead but transforming and re-shaping into a new era of PR which is much more complex.
Traditional PR is certainly not how it used to be and this is the PR which is becoming a dying breed. Those still adopting solely traditional methods of PR are falling behind in the race. Not a dead horse by any stretch although agencies and communications professionals have had to adapt their traditional PR methods to keep up with the new and ever evolving environment. This landscape is now made up of fragile ecosystems of shared interests connecting, chaotically, across diverse communities. Everything and anything can become public to any type of audience, across any part of the world and to any type of individual/ group/ or organisation. The term ‘public’ isn’t what it used to be.
What has brought the biggest change in the industry? Simply, digital developments. These inventions are the new communication channels and are most commonly known as social media. Social media has brought about a new area of PR and communication which brands and communication professionals have had to adapt to include within their environment. It was only a few years ago when a whole raft of agencies came forward, showcasing themselves as ‘offline PR specialists’ or ‘digital agencies’. This is just not the case anymore. The industry has realised that there should not be any strict distinction between digital communications and PR alongside other forms. They are intertwined and should work together to compliment and accommodate each other. This has lead to a new type of agency with a ‘take all’ approach. More and more digital agencies are claiming they can ‘do PR’ which in my view should be considered carefully and approached with caution – but this is another matter.
Going back to the development of agencies within the industry, I believe agencies now need to differentiate themselves from their competitors within other specialist areas – whether this be by industry type, or by specialism i.e. creativity / innovation… and demonstrate their skills in doing so.
The rise in digital channels and additional methods outside of the traditional PR space has only highlighted the importance of effective PR and communications for brands, organisations and companies. The competition in 2014 across all industry sectors in stronger, faster and more cut throat. Organisations and brands need to have their voice heard within the crowded marketplace with the knock on effect on agencies and PR professionals who now need to have the tools and knowledge to utilise the opportunities for the essential coverage which will generate the required impact for brands.
PR as an industry has developed and now understanding the multiple channels available, PRs can have the upper hand. Delivering and outreaching content which can drive cut-through coverage is the direction agencies are and should be moving towards. In an industry which is extremely quick paced, dynamic, innovative and creative, there is only one way PR can survive and that’s to adapt and develop – something PR is very used too – ensuring PR and communications is not dead, but still very much alive.