Friday, December 26, 2008

PR and 'New Media' - What's in Your PR Wallet?

There was an interesting topic thread about PR over at TechCrunch that I wanted to point you to before the holiday break -- it currently spans across two posts from Michael Arrington.

The first is "Death to the Embargo" about TechCrunch's decision to no longer respect the idea of a PR embargo -- or to respect it selectively as they decide.

The second is "Meet Lois Whitmat the Poster-child for Everything Wrong with PR", a post that sprung from some communications between the aforementioned PR person and a new media org (tech blog that covers phones) and the upcoming CES show.

The titles pretty much sum up the focus of the post, so I won't bother quoting anything specific in the post. Both posts are particularly notable for the discussion that takes place in the comments portion of the post, so don't stop at the end of the article.

What these two posts really touch on are some of the symptomatic manifestations of the challenge for old-school marketing and PR to keep up with the real impact of change that is being shaped by new media (the same broad issue that Seth Godin captures so well in Meatball Sundae: Is Your Marketing out of Sync?).

With the embargo post, it's a case of companies, PR groups and media wrestling with what the traditional idea of "embargo" means when publishing is instantaneous and republishing is widespread. In old-school PR, there were gentleman's agreements, old-boy networks, and key media outlets. As the gatekeeper infrastructure collapses, there's a corresponding struggle to understand who are the gatekeepers that you want to respect and how do you should work with them.

To me, one root cause of these problems is a disconnect between what should be 'push' and what should be 'pull'. Traditional PR has tried to push 'news' to media, but the world is changing. Now push=spam and we want to control which social networks that we participate in. What you're seeing in these two posts are people who are struggling with the rule changes -- and the lack of rules -- and what that means. For people that don't understand the 'why' behind the marketing tools and how the why shapes the 'when' and 'how', they're going to struggle. Anyway, it's good food for thought.

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