This week, Shannon Paul suggested that integrating social media into communications strategies was putting the “P” back in PR, renewing a focus on public instead of media. I agree with Shannon a bit, but wanted to up the ante.
Shouldn’t the “P” stand for People? My wife and I aren’t a public. We’re people. I’m willing to bet you’d say you’re people, too.
Yes, I know that “public” refers to groups of people, but that still feels a bit cold to me. This is more about changing our mindset, for those of us who need it. People expect more personal relationships and one-to-one conversations. People want to share their dreams and fears. People want to be heard. People want connections.
I believe PR is well-positioned to lead the charge in creating more powerful connections between people and our brands. But we have to look for ways to foster those relationships, which goes beyond a great story on cold newsprint.
That’s not to say that those news stories aren’t worthwhile. They always will be. But we can’t stop there. Those brands that do stop there run the risk of losing out to brands that pursue ways to engage with people. I think this will become more noticeable as the social media sphere grows, along with the opportunities it presents to connect directly with people.
Have we gotten so focused on media that we’ve elevated placements above the people we’re actually trying to reach?
Do we pitch stories to outlets that don’t target our “people” for the sake of increasing impression numbers?
Do we send stuff out on newswires because you get some automatic online “placements” and “impressions” that real people could never find by searching the news site, even with perfect keywords? (We can only find them because we’re sent a direct link.)
I agree with Shannon. Media outlets are vehicles – tools, if you will – not the end goal. But I think the conversation needs to take an even bigger step back. In Yesteryear, we could get away with simply thinking about “publics.” I think, though, that might not cut it these days. Today, it’s all about People Relations.
*Image by Jairo.