One of the benefits of starting to knock on in years, is that you appreciate what goes around comes around and history does repeat itself. That said, you only need to hang around on the internets for about six months to see the same memes repeating themselves. The one currently-doing the rounds, is that PR is dead/unnecessary/useless/pointless/mainly full of imbecilic idiots that would be better off returning to their true vocation of asking “do you want fries with that?”
The cycle for this meme seems to be getting shorter and this time round everyone has weighed in with an opinion, from Michael Arrington, Scoble and even Steven Rubel, who works for a global PR firm, questioned if bloggers and journalists want PR help anymore and is PR becoming obsolete?
I’m not about to leap to the defence of PR here, there is no doubt that there are a lot of people out there who are not as good at their jobs as they should be. This was true before the advent of social media and will continue to be true after social media gets assumed into the mainstream consciousness and it just becomes media. What makes me frustrated is that a lot of the complaints echo what we’ve heard from mainstream journalists over the years. Take a look at the list provided by Scoble on what bloggers want and tell me how it is that different to what technology journalists want.
1. What we really want is an exclusive interview with Steve Jobs.
2. I want to see some passion about building a great service for customers that solves their pain.
3. If you really have a killer product and a killer service I don’t care how you get a hold of me.
4. Don’t call us (especially me) if you want to get on TechMeme and that’s your main goal.
5. For those of us who are on the TechMeme game we MUST be in the first group.
6. Don’t just pitch the product.
7. Video bloggers need different things than text bloggers.
8. Why don’t you get a ton of FriendFeed’ers to vote up your own blog?
9. Build experiences where we can get to know you.
Robert Scoble, What do the freaking tech bloggers want?
Ok so the techmeme and friendfeed points seem different but really they’re not. If you want to get a client into the mainstream press you usually start on by building its presence in the trade/regional press and if you want to get into some publications then the best way in is a juicy exclusive, just like techmeme.
I know that the PR profession has become sloppy because when you upset a print or broadcast journalist, they worst they could do is swear at you or complain to your boss. The former wasn’t that frequent and the latter hardly happened either. Now of course irate bloggers get to name and shame. Which is great, they get to vent their frustration and it ensures that the PR in question will do a better job next time.
Oh right it doesn’t.
Which is why I’m not a fan of the new PR Fail and PR Win blogs which take del.icio.us and twitter #tags to track the relative success of pr activity in the online world. I guess they can be used over time to see if the situation has improved or not, but they’re not actually helping to make a difference, so really what’s the point?