Long after TV was supposed to kill off radio (as depicted in "Video Killed the Radio Star," the first video aired by MTV), pundits have been declaring the deaths of LPs (that's what came before CDs for those born after 1982), VHS and VCRs (replaced by DVDs), DVDs (replaced by blu-ray), landlines (replaced by cellphones), incandescent light bulbs (to be replaced by compact fluorescent to be replaced by LEDs).
I know I left off fax machines, but most people seem to have forgotten about faxes.
What's interesting is that not all those technologies have died as predicted. But that hasn't stopped people from continuing to make similar predictions about other things.
Like PR, for example.
At a panel on PR and social media that I moderated for the New England Venture Network (which we cosponsored) as part of BREW Boston (Boston Regional Entrepreneurs Week), the question of PR's death came up right away.
In fact, the question came up earlier that day on Twitter as people discussed that night's panel.
Half the panel -- comprised of blogger Paul Gillin, Xconomy's Greg Huang, BBJ/Mass High Tech's Galen Moore, and Fortune.com's Dan Primack -- came prepared to say that PR is dead.
I think that PR as it was conducted in "The Sweet Smell of Success" circa 1957 is dead. And PR the way it was conducted 15 years ago or even 10 years ago, is, if not dead, certainly not doing well.
But PR as it can be practiced today is not dead. It has evolved, however, just as advertising and journalism have evolved.
In fact, I think that PR, advertising and journalism are all in the boat, and that we all need to figure out new ways of operating.
Here are some reasons why PR is not dead:
- Despite the hype, a lot of companies still are not fully engaged on social media. For those companies, especially, PR is still an effective way to communicate their story.
- The media is certainly evolving, but it's still important to work with them. PR still handles this best.
- The press release continues to be a useful tool, the panel declared. Even if it is no longer the most important component for making announcements, it's still part of the announcement process.
- Advertising can still be very expensive, and not just for startups. Public relations can be a much more cost-effective way to market a company. Paul Alexander at Liberty Mutual recently told the Ad Club of Boston that PR is great, cost-effective resource to handle social media.
- Advertising functions and agencies can position a company and find key differentiators, but they don't necessarily know how to work with editorial, reporters, etc. (For that matter, we wouldn't know how to create and place ads.)
- As this year saw, thanks to BP, Toyota, H-P, poor communications can make crisis communications worse. PR can be best positioned to plan for and execute communications during a crisis.
Let me know if you think I left out a reason why PR is not dead. Or if there are more reasons why PR is dead.
Here are some other articles that discuss whether or not PR is dead: