Are PR companies tempted to make false promises on "new media" communications?
Startups and large corporations are crying out for "new media communications" and PR companies are happy to offer their services. However, very, very few of them have the domain expertise in-house to work in the new media world of blogging, and other online "conversations."
Bottom line, while there are some exceptions, IMHO *very* few PR firms today can effectively balance and execute an integrated comms program -- meaning one that blends new and old media. It's not a dig, I just think a lot of people, a lot of firms are grappling with a changing media environment, a dearth of in-house expertise and evolving client needs/expectations -- basically, industry transition.
Some questions to ask your PR company to evaluate its ability to work in new media communications:
1 - Ask to see their blogs and how long they have been publishing online.
2 - Ask them how they use collaborative technologies such as blogging and wikis, internally.
3 - Ask them if they know who are the influential online journalists/bloggers in your sector.
4 - Ask them if they send out new media press releases rather than the old style. A new media press release is one that has lots of links, it is partially deconstructed and sections are clearly labelled and tagged, and it is delivered in electronic format in html source code.
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Most PR companies will be deficient on those questions but that is something that can be fixed. For example, I've spent a lot of my time trying to educate the PR sector on the way things are changing. I've spoken on panels and I've done a lot of teleconferences, and I'll be doing a select amount of consulting in this area to help organizations transition to a new media world.
Education is important but at the end of the day, unless you become involved in the new media technologies you will not fully "get it." And you can't "get it" by just reading about it... I know that is hard to imagine, but it's true. You dig?