People who don’t understand PR tend to conflate it with media relations. Though earning coverage is just one of many PR activities, the profound changes shaking the news business are good news for public relations. There’s hardly an online news outlet that hasn’t taken steps to offer native advertising. The decimation of the ranks of paid journalists means more opportunity for brands to influence what gets coverage. The ability for companies to go directly to their audiences, bypassing the filter of the press, has reduced reliance on hostile outlets to tell company stories.
If you think all this presages a rosy future for the PR business, think again. As PR becomes an increasingly potent force for shaping the news people see, practitioners will need to be at least as accountable to the public as they are to their clients. The time has come to take the “public” in public relations seriously.
Can PR eat its own dog food?
PR agencies exist to bill clients. Among the counsel agencies are giving to clients these days is the mandate to get serious about corporate social responsibility. A pile of recent surveys makes it clear that the public—the target audience PR tries to reach on behalf of its clients—expects businesses to contribute to society as much as they do to their own bottom lines.