The more things change…

Public relations professionals can’t seem to stop talking about the dramatic changes our industry is experiencing, particularly as social media becomes firmly rooted in communications playbooks and technology offers more ways to shape our clients’ brands. However, change is nothing new to PR, or to communications in general.

In his book “I Live in the Future & Here’s How It Works,New York Times technology writer Nick Bilton points out that “new” methods of communication have been rocking our world practically since the beginning of time. He recounts a long line of doomsday scenarios that came with the invention of the telephone, the printing press, the television – the list goes on and on.

With each new innovation, behaviors shifted and certain aspects of communications changed forever. But through the ages, there were also many constants. Public relations is no different. While we are experiencing change that feels monumental, there are some tenets that are the same today as they were 20 years ago.

Ethics matter

Whether communicating via a 140-character tweet or at a good, old-fashioned press conference, honesty and integrity always win the day. Doing the right thing for the right reasons never gets old.

Listening is key

Making an effort to listen to clients’ objectives and strategize accordingly is timeless. Wants and needs don’t always match up – it takes an active listener to navigate that gap.

Relationships rule

The two-martini lunch may have been replaced by the tweetup, but either way, investing time and effort to develop mutually beneficial partnerships with media, clients and vendors is critical.

Substance trumps style

Bells and whistles are abundant in the digital age, but if they aren’t supported by relevant content, attention spans will be short.  This is especially true in media outreach, where the best way to make news is still to do something that is newsworthy.

Target, target, target

Knowing your audience and how to reach them is a tried and true recipe for success. Clients who requested a paper newsletter in the past most likely wanted the same thing a client improving their social media game wants today – more tools to connect with a core audience.

The list of new opportunities and changing tactics seems to be endless. But the constants in our industry, while less frequently debated, also exist in abundance.

What are some of the things that you’ve noticed haven’t changed in PR over the past several years or even decades?

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