Public Relations has been called PR ever since I can remember, certainly during the duration of my 14 year career. But things have changed more in the PR industry in the last 12 months than, arguably, in the previous 12 years. And this leads me to think that maybe the ‘new PR’ needs a makeover – a new name, a new personality and a complete new identity.
As the entire communications environment gravitates more and more towards digital channels, whether that be the web or mobile devices, and printed/conventional media continues its decline, PR is converging very rapidly with search engine optimisation (SEO). This is the crux of the PR agency v digital agency battle for social media provision, and it’s my belief that in the near future a progressive and successful PR agency will need a full grasp of SEO in relation to both content generation and publishing via online channels.
A recent post on this blog, posing the question of whether PRs are up to speed on social media, attracted some very interesting points of view, and the debate has been fuelled further by fellow communications professionals such as Darika Ahrens, Adam Vincenzini and Andrew Brown, all of whom are as passionate about the subject as I am. But while those in the PR industry who are savvy enough to be involved in Twitter, reading (and writing) blogs and contributing to the debate are well aware of the issues and challenges the industry faces, it really concerns me that those people are a tiny minority of all of the PROs and, particularly, MDs and CEOs of PR agencies out there. The vast majority are either ignorant of the issue or not taking the threat of digital agencies seriously enough to do anything about it. With every day that passes, they fall further behind.
In this environment there are a few exceptions who are actively seeking to change the face of what PR has to offer, notably the recently launched The Rabbit Agency, an offshoot of Cow PR that is totally devoted to online communications. Interestingly, it describes itself as “a digital engagement agency. Or an online PR creative agency. Or a digital word of mouth agency. Or a web marketing conversation agency”. And this kind of highlights the point – what do we call this new style of PR?
I have huge respect for what The Rabbit Agency is doing. To my mind this is exactly what the PR industry needs and I’m sure it’ll be a massive success (and already is judging from the regular client wins announced on Twitter!). I would like nothing better than for more agencies of this type to appear – specialist digital PR agencies who appreciate the issues in today’s communications environment and are actively addressing them.
Rabbit is a new breed of PR agency (no pun intended) and, to my mind, needs a radical new identity. But what?
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