Monday, April 30, 2012

2012 – Reaffirming the P in Public Relations

A story recently ran in Wired by Steve Levy about Narrative Science, a Chicago-based company that has invented a computer algorithm that can write news stories. On the phone the other day, I was talking with a leading editor from one of IT’s biggest magazines, and he told me that one of the companies he covers no longer reaches out to reporters about news. They simply post their news to their company’s blog sites and expect reporters to read them and then contact them with questions. 

Maybe in the rush to capture SEO dominance, these approaches provide some limited value, but I fail tosee how they help establish real relationships with the media or with readers. Stories written by robots can’t have the flair, opinion or color that a real person would include. Just look at the latest piece from your favorite columnist or reporter to prove it’s true.  And I get that some items that a company might consider news will hold zero interest for reporters so the “news” is written in a story format and published as companies look to connect directly with readers. But all news?

As a person that spends a lot of time with reporters and analysts, and with the companies that want to help reach customers through their stories, I find that both have interesting viewpoints that make for a good read. Without the experience, opinions, impressions of both, you’re only getting one side of the story.

What I think is getting lost in today’s SEO-driven media market is the “personal” or “professional” aspect in PR – the “other P” so to speak. The inherent value in PR is having a personal relationship (the “R”) with reporters and execs that enable the PR person, as the bridge, to help both entities get what they want – a meaningful story about a company/product/person/trend that a magazine’s readers want to read. Those relationships -- forged over a long period of time and grown through trust -- can never be reproduced by any machine or replaced by a website blog post.

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