The Demise Of Traditional PR?
By Kelly Kolhagen, Senior Vice President, MSLGROUP Americas
Eleven years ago, I quit a 21-year career in the newspaper business and joined a former colleague at his upstart PR firm in suburban Detroit. After years of loathing the PR people who called on deadline to pitch ‘Bladder Control Awareness Month’ or ‘Cling Peach Week’, I left journalism because the Internet was about to reinvent how news was gathered and delivered – and financed. None of it was good news for parents like me, looking down the double barrel of orthodontia and college.
Eighty percent of this business is about finding great stories and effective ways to tell them. Social media is wonderful tool, but it doesn’t make up for a lousy story or a nonexistent strategy, and it never will.
Remember Ted Williams, the homeless guy with the honey golden voice whose drug and alcohol addiction left him panhandling on the streets? A multimedia producer for the Columbus Dispatch captured a video of him and posted it on YouTube. Watch it here:
A million views and a whirlwind of high-profile TV appearances later, Williams was offered more jobs than several men could perform. His was a tale of redemption and second chances – a classic story that has been told since the invention of the printing press. While it took the Internet to spread it across the world, it went viral for the simple reason that it was a modern-day rendition of “Queen for a Day.”
When it comes to word-of-mouth buzz, technology has changed the delivery but not its basic premise. When I was a kid, the butcher who sold rotten liverwurst or put his thumb on the scale faced being outed at the clotheslines, where the homemakers of the neighborhood took no prisoners. Today, moms are working outside the home, and they’re still outing cheaters on blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Angie’s List, Kudzu and other digital “clotheslines.”
PR will always be ruled by great stories told to the right people. I find comfort in that because I know today’s killer app and Facebook phenom are tomorrow’s clothesline or evening newspaper or cassette tapes – destined for history’s cutout bin.
Originally posted on Blogworks.org, MSL Detroit’s blog.