Online public relations sells. Socially.

by Steve Seager

In client meetings, I have been asked many times why I keep on pushing the fact that our business, we do communications, does online public relations. Why don’t I call it online marketing or something?

Well, even though public relations does ‘sell’ on the social web, I have two main reasons for sticking close to public relations.

The first reason is simply the way people communicate on the web. As the rather brilliant Hugh MacLeod says: “If you talked to people the way advertising talks to people, they would punch you in the face.”

Public relations is not advertising. Likewise, it is not mass communications. It is a specialist discipline in building grassroots relationships with highly targeted communities. Sound just like our good friend social media, don’t you think?

The second is that, even though I have a solid background in marketing, I have always found public relations a more effective ‘sell’. Why? Well, as my buddy Michiel suggests in his blogpost here why not build a relationship and reach your marketing objectives at the same time?

I know I have mentioned it a dozen times, but public relations is much more than publicity and media. It’s not a competition with marketing or sales. It’s a joint effort. The value that online public relations can add is much more about building sustainable and, ahem, ‘social’ relationships that still result in sales results, marketing objectives, and on the bottom line, business objectives.

The fight for social media territory is one that will not benefit clients’ prospects, customers or stakeholders. Understanding the value that all our communications disciplines can add, will.

But of course, I still think public relations is the most ‘social’ of communications. Don’t you? (Sorry, couldn’t resist it!)

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