“The press release is dead,” I said. I had a pint in my hand, so was technically off duty, but then I was being asked about PR, so I had to jump in. Gobby. What can I say, when I spot a PR emergency I take action.
My interrogator had ventured forth the notion that all a PR firm does is write press releases, fire them out to the media and then wait for them to land.
Wrong! The landscape has changed. Newspapers have re-invented themselves as multi-platform media brands. Yes, papers are printed but they’re much thinner and circulations are making that old process a difficult one for the bean counters to justify.
Elsewhere we no longer watch TV or listen to the radio in the same way we used to. Programmes are stored and downloaded to be consumed when we want them.
Social networks were not initially considered as channels to convey news, but now many are at the core of both gathering and disseminating news — some of it’s even real. It’s not just Generation Next that permanently has a device in their palm. People debate what the politicians are saying as they’re saying it on Question Time.
In short, the lines are blurred.
Viva was established in the dial up days of 2002, but since then the revolution of the media world has dramatically reshaped the nature of what we do. It’s now incredibly difficult to conceive of any PR activity that does not have some form of digital activity. Our award-winning campaigns are inevitably integrated for maximum effect.
Until relatively recently many of our clients didn’t get it. ‘Twitter, why bother?’ they’d ask. But then, when you drilled deeper, many tended to be in the traditional camp where success was measured in the length of press clippings.
That still has some, albeit diminishing, value as a means to end but it should never be the end in itself.
We begin with the end goal and insist on asking clients the question they hate second most (after what kind of budget have you got). It’s the one about their aims and objectives which frequently aren’t measurable, smart or even sometimes considered.
We all need to think deeply about the people we are trying to reach. Where are our audiences, who influences them now, how will we get their attention?
The press release…yeah, build a bonfire, take a match and forget it.