The Creative Destruction of Public Relations

by Todd Defren, PrSquared

IStock_000004493927XSmallI noted with interest that PR-Squared had been removed from the syllabus of the Public Relations course at Arizona State University’s Cronkite School of Journalism.

According to the professor, Dr. Dawn Gilpin, “I took (PR-Squared off the list) because Todd Defren is one of those people who straddles the line between PR and marketing, and in my view often conflates the two.”

Dr. Gilpin is correct that I straddle that line. And you know what else?  She is correct in suggesting I confuse the two.  I have to.  Because that’s the way the world is headed.

The distinct discipline of Public Relations no longer exists.

With extraordinarily rare exceptions, the definition of PR was conflated with “Media Relations.”  And while Media Relations will ALWAYS be a critical component, its standing as a standalone practice is driving towards extinction.

Listen to PR industry veteran Aaron Kwittken describe why he sold his agency last week to MDC Partners, a marcomm holding company:

“Traditional PR agencies have five to 10 years left in the cycle before they get phased out. Everything is blurring together and traditional PR agencies need to think how they are going to add to their social and digital abilities and how to expand into other areas,” Kwittken said.

I surely understand that “Marketing” is the umbrella under which all other disciplines fall. The problem is that it’s ever harder to bucket this stuff.  PR is no longer JUST Media Relations.  Advertising is no longer JUST advertising.  Social Media Marketing is no longer JUST about Social Media.  Email and Direct Marketing don’t exist in a silo anymore, either.

If I confuse the definitions of PR and Marketing it’s cuz the Marketing world is itself confused.  To paraphrase my favorite poet, “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the (marketing) world.”

In other words, if I offer up “marketing ideas” under the guise of “PR advice” (or vice versa), it may indeed be that I’ve confused the two.  But I’d urge you to forget the labels and take the advice.  Because the labels won’t matter for much longer.

Posted on: September 13, 2010 at 1:24 pm By Todd Defren
Source: PrSquared

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. publicrelationswriter
    Sep 17, 2010 @ 22:56:27

    It is interesting that public relations is no longer a clearly defined market. It appears that it now has a wide range of “job descriptions.” That is good in a sense, for those of us who enjoy variety, but it seems that almost every market these days is down-sizing and employees who have not been let go have added responsibilities, typically with the same pay. Defren brought to light a trend hitting the public relations field as it is others across the nation.



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