Sunday, July 27, 2008

Beating the downturn

"If we – as marketers – follow where our customers go, we will need sooner or later to make the mental shift to consumer generated media."

This is a conclusion made by Eric-Kintz over at his HP blog. Oh... this is just bait for a good ol' fashioned rant.

It is a real problem in PR.

Personal experience and as many reports on the impact of the internet on life, commerce and everything keeps passing the PR community by.

It is no good sticking with the press-releases are our bread and butter mindset. Its just not very effective any more. The Internet has roughly double the influence of the second strongest medium — television — and roughly eight times the influence of traditional print media.

Sure, there is a pile of press clips and exaggerated and meaningless AVE's and so called ROI to demonstrate that PR people can get coverage.

So what. They don't sell product and have a relatively low and declining effect opinion and brand success.

But clients are mesmerised by the glare of online and consultants seek a silver bullet.

I guess there is a simple answer as online spending bucks the recession: focus on developing online capability.

I know this means that the average practitioner will have to listen to FIR, join Linkedin, write a blog and Twitter like mad and, at the same time, learn to use and pay attention to experts using RSS.

But the preferred PR industry option is to advise clients (in house or as a consultant), to do more of the same and go down with them.

I am more convinced than ever, that online PR has a future but frustrated that its taking practitioners so long to wake up. If that was not bad enough, I am also alarmed at how bad...... I mean irresponsible .... PR education is when it comes to online anything.

Last week, I had a conversation with two PR tutors who told me that they had difficulty getting PR first degree students to engage with the internet and internet marketing and PR.

In the last month, I have been talking to PR graduates (at least that's what they hope for) from a number of different UK schools and they just did not have a clue about online communication. Sure, they did have a Facebook presence and many had course groups on it.

Some 'Had to blog'. Wow!

Not one used Twitter, none had made a podcast, they could not find an academic paper using a search engine, only one had heard of 'pay per click' the list goes on......

The present economic slowdown means that these young people NEED online capability to get a job this year and survive the next five years in their chosen profession. Failure to provide it in a fun and engaging way is irresponsible beyond belief. Equipping young people with skills in flint knapping is fine for a minority of archaeologists but not the rest of society!

Is it true that when the going gets tough, academia retreats into its ivory tower?

So we don't have expertise among practitioners, who truly can't square the life of tens millions, their own reality and the need to be professional in communication skills and PR students who have been turned off.

If you are a student with online PR on your CV... send it to me. If you are a practitioner who just wants to find out where you career is going, you are too late!