Patrick Di Chiro, a veteran agency and corporate exec (pictured at right) who now runs PR firm ThunderFactory, has been interviewing mid-level execs for positions at his agency and said he’s been “sorely disappointed” to find little interest or practical knowledge of social media. Di Chiro, who was chief comms. officer for E*Trade and a partner at Ketchum, has been left to wonder: Is PR still relevant?
What they typically understood was pitching traditional media, writing press releases, putting together media lists, managing press briefings, working editorial calendars, and developing messaging documents. Stuff I learned 25 years ago at Carl Byoir & Associates, once one of the largest PR agencies in the world, and which went out of business quite a number of years ago. (Why? Because it forgot how to compete and stay relevant in a changing PR industry.)
He poses this question for the industry:
How will we conduct effective marketing PR targeted to a generation of consumers who never touch a newspaper or barely a magazine, who spend a huge amount of time on MySpace and increasingly Facebook (neither of which is particularly accessible to the usual PR tactics), and who get their information in bite-sized chunks from a myriad of media sources?
Got the answer? If you do, I’d hire you. And, you are probably not going into PR.
DiChiro does believe PR is still relevant, by the way. But, he notes, social media is a market “in which other players are quickly learning the digital game.”
Other players (read: ad agencies) taking the reins of social media and its marketing potential would cloud its promising future. Content and community are driving the digital media craze and the third-party and research-based credibility that PR could/does bring to the conversations needs to be ahead of the rest of the marketing pack.