Monthly Archives: July 2011

Is Public Relations Entering the Apocalypse or Golden Age?

Recently, I was having a conversation with a friend of mine who owns a successful creative services agency that focuses primarily on strategy and branding. We were talking about how business was and he told me that business was good, steady and he was definitely keeping busy. However, he noted that many organizations seemed to be standing on the sidelines and taking a wait-and-see approach when it came to signing retainers or initiating large scale projects. My friend chalked it up to the uncertainty around the debt ceiling and the potential impact it would have on the economy.

A couple of days later, I read with great interest, Ken Makovsky, APR, Fellow PRSA piece in Public Relations Strategist titled the 7 Reasons Why the Golden Age of Public Relations Is Within Reach. The dichotomy of the conversation with my friend and this article got me thinking: Are we, as communicators, entering the golden age or perhaps the apocalypse?

I actually think what some organizations are experiencing is communications paralysis. Think about it, 20 years ago a company might send out a press release, do some B2C or B2B marketing (i.e. flyers, brochures, tchotchkes, etc.), have a commercial on TV, the radio or both and, maybe, just maybe, they were thinking about investing in a new-fangled website.

In today’s consumer-friendly, technology environment, I could be a stay-at-home-dad with a side business selling monogrammed baby bibs and have all of those things and so much more. Honestly, all the channels at a communicator’s disposal now can be overwhelming…which is exactly why communications professionals who can think strategically, see the golden opportunity before them and harness its formative powers, do not see this era as the apocalypse.

But, I’m just one guy. So, I conducted a quick, informal survey with 20 senior-level, creative service agency professionals, and the overall sentiment reflected my friend’s assertion that business fundamentally is going well right now and, in most cases, agencies are busier than they have been in the last couple of years. I also learned agency clients are demanding more in-depth research to better target customers and justify their communications investment.

This bodes well for those seasoned communicators who can harness this paradigm shift and draw a line from communications/brand strategy to the bottom line of a business. It is also exciting for the conversationalist youngsters who are free from the conventions of traditional communications and willing to explore a changing communications landscape.

— Ed Davis, PRSA Houston president-elect, director of Media & Public Relations at the United Way of Greater Houston.

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