December 3rd, 2008
I’d like to propose that we make every December (see comments) November 1 “PR Is Dead Day.” For at least three years, the “PR is dead” mantra has been a constant with bloggers on the social media right. The latest salvo was fired yesterday by Dennis Howlett, in a blog post titled PR Is So Over.
Dennis’s complaint is a valid one:
“In any one day I field up to 20 PR requests. I can guarantee that 90+% of them have done zero research to find out what I’m interested in. In the worst cases they won’t have done a basic Google search to find out who I am or where my interests lay. In 2008, that’s beyond unacceptable, it’s criminal.”
Yes, social media has changed the world of communications. Yes, traditional public relations is no longer the most effective means for a company to deliver its message to the marketplace. And yes, there are many less-than-stellar PR people out there.
But it’s a logical fallacy to make the leap from this to “the PR industry is in its death throes.” Certainly, public relations is going through a difficult transition. But transitioning it is, with many traditional, old line, public relations agencies now possessing credible social media practices doing good client work, and many other hybrid aka new-media PR agencies, like SHIFT Communications, doing PR in a Web 2.0 world quite nicely, thank you.
It seems every time one of the social media purists receives a lame, untargeted pitch from a junior public relations person, this is a bellwether that the industry is all but gone and forgotten. Please. We encounter incompetence and ineffectiveness everywhere every day. We hate the cable companies. We hate our cellular providers. We hate the airlines. And while many companies in these industries are in trouble and many of them are doing a very poor job, we’re still going to fly planes and use mobile phones. We don’t have to like it (and who does), but it’s hard to make the leap from that to “the cellular phone industry is so over.”
And while the PR industry may suffer from a competence gap, let’s also remember that there are a hell of a lot of people doing really bad social media. Arguably the proportion of social media professionals who don’t know what they’re doing may be larger than that found in traditional public relations.
For that reason, I am calling for December (See comments) November 1 as Annual PR Is Dead Day. I realize that many bloggers are frustrated with the ineptitude of clueless PR people mindlessly lobbing untargeted releases over the electronic fence. So let’s set aside one day a year for some serious PR bashing, leaving 364/365 days a year when we don’t have to listen to this wearisome and not entirely credible complaint.