A couple of recent posts have led to a flurry of commentary that heaps even more criticism on PR's value as a profession. It started with Guy Kawasaki's blog, which references an article by Margie Zable Fisher on "Why PR Doesn't Work." The post points to the need for PR agencies and consultants and their clients to really understand what PR can and cannot accomplish and how the parties can work together for their mutual benefit. Some lively commentary followed, and Kawasaki subsequently published a post by Glenn Kelman, a real estate CEO, espousing do-it-yourself PR. (BTW, Glenn, the same case might be made for buying and selling your own properties without using any real estate services, right?) The post led to some significant PR bashing, which has come to be as much of a sport as lawyer-bashing. Hey, we're easy targets. Some of the blame falls on our industry, which has been historically bad at doing PR for PR. Public Relations Society of America, why aren't you weighing in on these blogs?
Of course, you can do your own PR. Could you be effective? Depends on your company, product, audience and the media. And the posts seem to assume that PR simply boils down to calling a few editors/producers or getting into a few blogs, rather than the many other tactics that we employ, including community relationship-building, value-added promotions and street team marketing.
PR requires constant reading -- and knowing what reporters and editors are covering, what the trends are and what interests them. Then you must provide the right stories at the right time and build their trust. It means responding to media requests quickly, and preparing your client well. Sometimes it also means working with the communities in which the company is located to build relationships and contribute to local causes; working with TV and radio to create value-added promotions to build sales and developing street team-level programs to encourage product trial and increase brand awareness.
Anyone can do their own PR. We could also do our own tax preparation, financial planning, plumbing, electrical, auto repair and roofing. Would it be worth the cost savings? Probably not.