Last week, Robert Scoble declared Tech PR useless. My response, a light-hearted post to shake off the negative energy, called for change within the PR industry. Many of you emailed me asking about the future of PR and marketing, so today I wanted to share those thoughts.
The founders of our industry, in my opinion, did not intend us to be keepers of the keys and intermediaries, but actual creators and facilitators. The original press release was not an announcement, but rather a creation of compelling content that editors wanted to print. They looked for stories to tell and then pitched these to reporters. And it worked, as long as the mainstream media was in control of the information.
Things have changed. Today, the Mainstream Media is struggling and the walls are crumbling. The rise of the Internet has moved content consumption online. Also, thanks to social media, everyone has the ability to create content themselves. Translation: The Internet is a REALLY REALLY noisy space.
Technologies like search and RSS feeds make information easily accessible–but they never seem to find *exactly* what you want. Also, social networks and bookmarking sites have added the human element to finding content, but even that isn’t always enough. With traditional media, reporters distilled the real world into articles. Likewise, bloggers take information on the Internet and present what’s good.
With decentralized information filtering, how do we make a significant impact to reach our audience, whether they are bloggers, reporters or consumers?
Curiouser and Curiouser
If I understand Robert and the other Tech bloggers, they are finding information through community and curiosity. They listen to what others in their online peer network (whether Facebook, Friendfeeed, Twitter, RSS Feeds, etc.) are saying/sharing. They also track and discover products and services the same way consumers do: word of mouth and surfing/searching.
What does this mean for PR and marketing practitioners?
- The goal is to leave breadcrumbs your audience follows to find you as if by magic
- To do this, we have to think like our audiences
- Instead of asking “What do we want our customers to think?”, we have to ask “What are our customers interested in? How can we reach them?” and “What can we teach them?”
- We no longer create stories, we look for conversation
- We execute strategy to reach audiences where they share ideas
- We engage in industry wide discussions with our clients as the moderator
We Are The Music Makers, We Are the Dreamers of the Dream
Instead of just producing viral videos, widgets, blog posts and (gasp) press releases, let’s create content people will want to consume. Let’s build rabbit holes of discussion that our curious audiences can crawl into.
The ultimate goal: Be known for facilitating stimulating conversation around topics related to our clients/services by creating content our audiences will be interested in.
How do you see the future of PR? How do you inspire curiosity and conversation to energize communities and build awareness?