The Rules of PR 2.0
PR Professionals need to be trained so they avoid the pitfalls of online PR…
Over the past two years the internet has been changing from a depository of static information to a vibrant, live conversation. Now referred to as Web 2.0, the live web is a very different place. Instead of using online photo albums we now have Flickr and YouTube. Instead of the Encyclopedia Britannica online, we have Wikipedia. And as Fortune Magazine said, we have blogs – for better or worse.
Web 2.0 has given the average person the power of voice. The barriers to online publishing are gone. Anyone can set up a blog in mere minutes and have their say online. In text, images and video. They can podcast and videocast. They can syndicate their thoughts and ideas in an RSS feed, making their comments visible to the entire world. And unlike print, it won’t disappear in a few weeks or months. It’s there for the duration.
What does this mean for public relations? No longer are we crafting one way messages that we can control. We are not doing media relations anymore – it has indeed become public relations. There is a public conversation going on and as a PR practitioner you need to learn how to be a part of this conversation.
What works in traditional PR does not always work in PR 2.0. Of course the basic rules of communication are still the same, but the online world has its own set of rules.
We’re used to looking for a few influencers who reach many individuals,. Now we have to find many influencers who might only be reaching a few individuals, but they’re all connected and in communication with one another.
Word of mouth is still the Holy Grail, but now it’s word of mouse and it’s lightning fast. There is no longer a slow feedback process – once an idea, or meme, takes hold in the blogosphere it will reach millions of like-minded folk in a very short space of time.
Authenticity and transparency are paramount. Some agencies and in-house PR people have learned this lesson the hard way. The Dell Hell debacle need never have happened if their PR department were up to speed on PR 2.0.
What was the PR department at Panasonic thinking when they invented a fake persona for a blogger? And the recent Edelman fiasco with their fake WalMart blogs is a perfect case in point. An agency that was supposedly leading the way in PR 2.0 put both their feet right in the proverbial substance. And it hit the fan, big time. Do a Google search on fake Wal-Mart blog to see the fall out.
Richard Edeleman said he is making sure that his staff gets more training. And that’s the crux of the matter. PR 2.0 is a new discipline. It’s not something you choose to learn, or not. It’s here and it’s here to stay. Your audience is no longer where they were. They are getting their news and information online and you need to learn how to reach them – effectively.
Perhaps some PR firms just didn’t get the memo, comented one blogger. Perhaps not, since PR 2.0 training is not yet widespread.
Only one in four universities in the UK are adapting their courses to reflect advances in social media. In the US, just 28 per cent of PR course content includes modules on blogging and new media techniques.
In other European markets, the trend is similar, with a minority of university PR and marketing degrees incorporating any online communications elements.
It’s time for a change – it’s way overdue vitally needed.
PR 2.0 training resources
Sally is the author of Website Content Strategy blog: Information about the shifts in media consumption and the use of
technology in marketing and PR so business can stay in touch with
their rapidly moving audiences.