Is online PR just a bandwagon?

Bit late on this one too, what can I say I’ve been busy with various stuff n things, but I eventually opened up last week’s copy of PR Week and for a change one of the reader letters was really rather sensible. From the PR Manager of Best Western Hotels, it asked:

Am I just acquiring justification for the impression that online PR is a bandwagon and a money-making schme for agencies that need to jump on the latest idea for fear of being left behind, rather than those that know  how to create real value for their clients?

Based on the fact that the letter writer can’t actually get an online PR agency to explain how they execute online campaigns, evaluate them or indeed explain why they should actually do one in the first place, then I think their impression is correct.

Personally I dislike the phrase ‘online pr’ with a passion I usually reserve only for marmite and gherkins. PR is PR, you don’t get ppl saying I do television PR or newspaper PR. I do think online channels should be considered as part of pretty much every PR campaign, totally depending on what your objective is and who your audience is. I also think that perhaps some agencies have jumped on the bandwagon when it comes to saying that they can do online PR, you can’t blame them – it is the future after all.

I’m a little stumped as to why no agency can explain its importance though.  Yes online audiences are smaller, you want mass awareness then get something on BBC Breakfast and in the newspapers, ppl who are online and interested will pick it up and keep spreading the word. However if you want to hit a very specific target, then online pretty much can’t be beat – think of the it as the equivalent to the trade mags we adore so much. They may only have a readership of a thousand but dammit they are the few thousand that matter, even better thanks to the magical two-way powers on the internet you can hear what those important people are saying and what they think.

I don’t know Best Western’s target audience, however as it is a travel brand I think that they are probably missing a trick by not working with online outlets, or by keeping an eye on what is being said about them online by bloggers and forum users – assuming that already aren’t.  I’d work up to encouraging their guests to post images on flickr and vids on youtube but I’d be loathe to do it as part of an online only campaign, in fact I’d recommend that they, and you too, have read of Mat’s post on how to integrate your communication activities.


For those that are interested the phrase to jump on the bandwagon comes from political campaigning in the US, where candidates would hire a wagon and put a band on it to, ppl showing support for the candidate would jump on the wagon. I think a similar tactic was used the Temperance Society, hence ppl going on the wagon when they give up beer.

0 thoughts on “Is online PR just a bandwagon?

  1. As you say, it’s not a bandwagon, but it is strange that no-one could justify it. It might still be a struggle to find ROI but there’s definitely other measures to use.

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