Despite overwhelming evidence that the mainstream media's influence is sliding, corporate America continues to focus its public relations dollars on media relations activities. This is a key finding of the 2008 PRWeek/MS&L Marketing Management Survey published this week by PRWeek (click here to download).
The online survey, conducted by PRWeek and Millward Brown, was completed by 252 marketing executives between May 1, 2008 and May 19, 2008. When asked how their companies use public relations, two out of three respondents said they use PR to generate publicity (media relations). It was the most frequent answer (see graphic below -- credit PRWeek).
10 years ago, I would have been shocked if responses were different than this. Even five years ago, I would not have been surprised that most who control marketing purse strings thought of public relations primarily as a publicity machine. But today, with newspaper readership dropping by the month, the nightly news a whisper of what it used to be and trade publications moving mostly online, the emphasis on media relations would seem quaint if it wasn't so scary.
Make no mistake, I continue to include "good ol' media relations" as an element of what we offer clients. But once we begin that discussion, we make it clear that our definition of "media" has radically changed in the past decade. We consider media to be any conduit through which we can deliver the message to a targeted audience. So YouTube is media, as is Flickr and FaceBook and select blogs that deal with appropriate subject matter.
Other studies have reinforced this mindset, suggesting that mainstream journalists are among the most avid consumers of social media such as blogs. There is strong evidence that a considerable percentage of newsroom decisions are influenced by the respected bloggers are writing about. A couple years ago, we launched a blogger-driven lobbying effort in the Texas Legislature, putting significant pressure on a deep-pocketed opponent. Though the big money ended up winning, we did make valuable in-roads -- even winning passage of a small concession. And the bloggers made so much noise that the mainstream media had to take notice.
The biggest disappointment of these findings is that just 35 percent of respondents say their company turns to public relations to help guide company strategy. At DPK Public Relations, we are fortunate to be intimately involved in the formulation of company strategy for our clients. As counselors to our clients' chief executives, we can help to identify and prevent potentially damaging issues and to uncover and fully leverage opportunities. Involving your PR counselor in strategy formulation is the best way to derive maximum value from your PR investment.
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