Too concerned about labels


I’m writing this on the flight home from the PR industry’s largest gathering, the PRSA International Conference.

A vibe I got from a significant element of the attendees was a reluctance to step outside perceived norms of the discipline and cross over into other avenues of communication.

Who cares if a social influencer expects you to pay her to blog and post about your organization? If she delivers the audience you want and the behavior change you want, that’s a great thing!

Who cares if someone wants to use paid digital advertising to drive eyeballs to the same piece of content that you’re sharing with media contacts? Why not do both?

And who cares whether it’s called “PR” or “media relations” or even “advertising” or “marketing.” If it’s going to increase positive outcomes for your employer, you should embrace it.

The next level of resistance I saw started with the words: “I don’t have the budget to . . . (contract with influencers) or (pay for digital ads) or (fund an activity to create newsworthiness).”

Okay, that might be fine. You might be able to earn the attention you need without paying (especially if you’re a likeable cause), and that constraint can be a positive driver of creativity.

But if the shrinking traditional media means you’re now getting less “free” coverage than you used to, then you better make a case to get some budget for something that will keep increasing your visibility.

Like paying some influencers.

Or if the influencers you’re working with are delivering quality content but they just don’t have the organic reach you need to hit your goals, then what’s wrong with sending some paid traffic to THEIR work to get there?

If what you’re used to doing isn’t working, your organization is going to change eventually. Trust me — it will turn out better for you personally if you drive that change. Otherwise you might get driven right out of the equation.

Whether something is labeled “PR” or “advertising” or “digital” or “marketing” only matters when Ph.Ds. get together and argue about what to label the degree programs they offer.

Please don’t limit your impact and potential by stopping at the border of what you believe “PR” means. Dare to step across the so-called lines between disciplines to see if there isn’t a better way.

What’s your take on this issue? What can I do to help you be more comfortable with converging forms of outreach? Send a message to me at [email protected] and your note will come right into my inbox.

This article was originally published on Oct 11, 2018.