Emperor’s New Media Clothes?

A few years ago the favourite spiel of corporate spokespeople in the IT trade was “one day we’ll stop calling it ‘e-commerce’, it’ll be simply ‘commerce’”.

I would like to say the same for ‘digital’ PR. Every week another PR firm wheels out a ‘digital arm’ to deal with its clients’ online profile, which makes me ask the same question I used to while a director at Rainier PR (now Speed) – isn’t this something all PR people should know about anyway?

Yes, yes, yes, I know, there’s a role for traditional PR and that goes without saying, but you need to know how to make the most of all platforms – digital or otherwise – to fill the PR skill set, and that includes digital media with all its myriad facets.

You know what comes next. “One day we’ll stop calling it ‘digital PR’…”


  1. I think there's a difference between 'should' and 'will'.

    In a perfect world yes all PR people should understand online, but as we're seeing that's not the case. Sure you have the 0.05% of us who are on Twitter and writing blogs but generally the industry is stagnant.

  2. That's where training comes in, I guess. I really do see a 'class system' emerging in PR between the 'traditionalists' and those that 'get' the digital era. A balance of the two is best.

  3. My thought is that by wheeling out 'digital arms' it will give the industry yet another reputation issue to shrug off... that we manipulate changes in the media to profiteer off something we should automatically know how to do.

  4. Surely, surely, surely it's just about understanding audiences and what you want to get out of it?

    Call me old fashioned, but.... surely it's our job to use the best channels possible. The 'traditionalist' media 'gets' the digital era so we need to as well.

  5. I agree but it's quite worrying how far some people in the industry are behind while at the same time how quick online is advancing.

    I don't believe most of the hype and think we're going to need traditional PRs for a long time yet. But (and this is a sweeping statement) they're 10 a penny whereas digital requires a new approach and new skills ... something that you as a traditionalist-by-training have mastered.

    You're in a good 'best of both worlds' position. Most are not. :-)

  6. This assumes that PR will continue to be done by "PR people". In future, the role of "PR" might not be limited to a few specialists.

    In a highly networked, connected society, "PR" becomes part of the very fabric of what an organisation does. Every interface/interaction between the organisation and the outside world will require the awareness and skills that have to date been ring-fenced in the press office, or PR agency.

    The change ahead could be rather more radical than PR people grasping "digital tools" to do what they always did. The change may involve everyone being a bit of a PR person (heaven help the world!).

    The "PR" professional of the future might have to be a shepherd of a great flock of communicators, not the lone voice.

    Of course, the PR professional of today might think I'm nuts ;)

  7. Interesting, Hemminac. There'll need to be a lot of direction from the top in the Web 2.0 world to prevent indiscretions from within.

    The bigger the company, the bigger the potential problem!

    Let's see where we are in two years...

  8. PRs are going to take over the world - no question!! (at least those who get digital)