Evolve or Die: The PR Firm in the Era of Conversations

At hubbub, Giovanni Rodriguez posted “Relating to the Public,” a whitepaper he and Paul Rand have written on behalf of the Council of Public Relations Firms.

It’s well worth a read, even if you’re not in the PR world.

At first I was concerned it was going to be all too Dr. Pangloss (or Pollyanna, to make the same reference in a different register):

The public relations industry finds itself at an historic juncture. It always has been about social influence – i.e., “relating to the public.” Now that the rules of social influence are gaining precedence over other approaches, public relations looms larger than ever. Working together, internal public relations departments and agencies can better serve their organizations while resetting the mandate and direction for an entire industry.

I was worried this was going to be the story of a “difficulty” turned into an “opporunity” – rather than becoming irrelevant, PR is more important than ever!

But it’s really a very measured and methodical paper – they later write that:

social media must become part of the way public relations practitioners do business or they will become obsolete


public relations practitioners . . . should recognize that defining, or redefining the role they will play in this changing communications landscape is critical

In other words, things are changing, and PR either needs to get with the changing climate or risk becoming irrelevant.

Other useful notes:

84% of participating firms they surveyed were “employing blogs on behalf of clients” – that’s an even higher number than I expected. (For the record, no PR firm employs this blog – I write it).

They also lay out changes in skill sets, personnel, and business models agencies and PR firms will need to go through.