Leveraging Your Reputation: Is it the end of PR as we know it?

Tom Ciesielka is President of TC Public Relations (www.tcpr.net). Tom has over 25 years of marketing and public relations experience, working with individual lawyers and mid-sized law firms. He is also a former board member of the Legal Marketing Association in Chicago and has spoken at Chicago Bar Associations CLE programs.  Reach him at tc@tcpr.net.

As I think about the end of summer, I think about other things that I’ve overheard are ending or ended. The oil spill leakage. Lindsay Lohan’s career. And public relations.

The end of public relations? As a PR professional, naturally I don’t agree. Sure, the way we communicate, share information and interact has changed, but shouldn’t that mean we need professional communicators now more than ever? In this spirit, I’ve given three examples below of how public relations will adapt…and survive.

Public relations will survive the downturn of print

It’s no secret that print newspapers and magazines are cutting staff and/or folding completely to move their content online. However, no matter what anyone says, print versions of newspapers and magazines will never die out completely. When radio was first introduced, newspapers took a hit. When TV was first introduced, radio took a hit. When the Internet was first introduced, all other media took a hit as people became glued to their computers. It’s a cycle – which by its definition means the balance of media is bound to change again. Who knows what will be beyond the Internet, but one thing is for sure – new technological developments do not mean the extinction of what came before, but rather create an extraordinary opportunity to integrate across different mediums. Consider the iPhone – you can listen to the radio, watch TV, send an email, and make a phone call all on one device. But there’s still nothing like picking up a fresh copy of Sunday’s paper. Knowing how to integrate the old and the new will always be our job.

Public relations will become stronger by joining forces

Public relations. Marketing. Advertising. Internal communications. Each department has different strategy and tactics, but ultimately we’re all working toward the same goal: build a brand that resonates with key audiences internally and externally. As these different sectors start to consolidate into one super-department with shared resources, it’s going to take an eye for PR to develop and massage the firm’s key message and communicate it not only to the public and the media, but to all the internal players, as well.

Public relations pros will be needed to explore the unknown

With all that has happened with the Internet and all that has yet to happen, professionals are needed to sort through and decipher new and up-and-coming applications, tools, platforms and outlets. It is our job to understand what works, what doesn’t and what has potential. While some claim to be “experts” I think it’s safe to say that the most any of us will ever be is an “expert-in-training.” All we can do is stay on top of what is currently useful for clients, predict which new tools will help businesses move forward, and show how to use all the applications and platforms in a seamless and productive way. Hand us the blueprint for your firm’s business and we’ll make sense of the toolbox to build something newsworthy and interesting for your clients and the media.

All of the above concludes that it, in fact, might be the end of public relations as we know it, but it certainly is not the end of public relations.

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