Edelman’s Steve Rubel continues to write provocative posts that discuss major challenges for the PR industry. In this latest one he suggests that social media – and the rise of citizen journalism – has essentially made the traditional PR pitch obsolete, but that the industry seems stubbornly attached to the practice. I’m working more on the internal side these days, but I agree with Rubel. I still get into philosophical arguments with folks on the external side who think social media is a fad and vigorously insist that journalists need, and want, to get their pitches. (That’s not what I hear from the journalists.) A fair number these peers have not even heard of social media releases.
I would add that pitching is not the only practice that should be updated or replaced, but isn’t. On the internal side, there is a similar blind spot about several old favorites, notably the archetypal newsletter and ubiquitous “core values.” (I’m not suggesting all these tactics be thrown out, but that any tactical plan be started on a blank slate and that suggestions be justified and probed.) This inertia is troubling given that PR – particularly the agency side – should be the profession that is leading the way, not hanging on for dear life and flirting with irrelevance. There is hope that the newer generations – already tech-literate and familiar with new social media tools – can bring a fresh outlook to the table, but that assumes their education and training is equally contemporary, and I’m not sure that’s the case. But that’s a topic for another post….