PR, Static Wine and Dynamic Wineskins
So The Good Book says you don’t put old wine in new wineskins. You put in the old wine in the old wine skin, and the new wine in the new wine skin, and then that way, both old and new are preserved.
Yesterday I started a little fire, on the subject of New PR. We all agree that social media (Facebook, Twitter, the mobile web, and the concepts behind them) is bringing about change in marketing, PR, advertising, etc, and amongst much hyperbole my point was, and I quote;
Companies are no longer able to procure their voice through paying an agency to write distant, removed press releases and expect them to connect and engage with their customers. Why? Because the press doesn’t form opinion anymore.
What followed was some great discussion, mostly contrary to my point, which you can read here. Today is part 2, which is in part a response to the comments, and in another part it’s that uncomfortable middle movie in a trilogy. Oh well.
Static and Dynamic
It is the case that the world is full of innovation. Something is created, and is fresh and new. But over time, thinking happens, abilities increase, and a new thing is made, that eventually over takes the old thing. Note that it doesn’t necessarily replace it, but it becomes more prominent. Think radio and TV. Think horses and cars. Think caves and houses. Think paper and computers. And if you’re Gen Y, think writing and typing.
It is also often the case that the first innovation, if it is a breakthrough, creates its own language that even outlasts its own life. The printing press gave birth to ‘The Press’ and ‘Copy’, language that remains despite its antiquity. Even ‘Script’ which predates the press has outlasted all its predecessors.
It is my observation that this innovative process also follows a pattern of increasing dynamic. Each new innovation grants new flexibility, new dexterity and new adaptability that renders the old thing somewhat static. And what fresher example to illustrate that the advent of social media. Static webpages give way to dynamic blogs and posts. Static updates give way to instant messaging and status updates. I’m sure you can fill in the gaps, which allows us to skip right to this:
Press is static. Social media is dynamic.
And you don’t put static press releases into dynamic wineskins.
All agreed. None of yesterday’s commentors would disagree. It’s obvious, right? Then why oh why are PR agencies, and other companies and firms, literally filling blogs with press releases? And why are the blogs they maintain devoid of names, and their Twitter accounts lacking faces, initials, or anything relationally accountable? Why are faces absent from their websites, their content lacking any differentiation or hint of personality?
Why is the dynamic being filled with the static?
The answer: they believe that social media equals public relations.
But it does not. Social media is the next curve. In mobile technology, it is the merging of offline and online, that will eradicate the difference between them. Everything is becoming connected – dynamic. Truly dynamic digital. As marketing, advertising, PR, new media, all begin to merge and the lines become blurred – this dynamic digital is not a successor, but a whole new innovation with new guidelines.
The New PR, the one that will become more prominent than the old PR, is personal relationship. In some ways, we’re not there yet. But in many ways, we’re certainly already there. Dynamic, personal interactions, like this example from Sarah Gilbert, or another on LinkedIn from Exeter’s own Sophy Norris.
Practitioners must begin to divide between the static and the dynamic, and the wineskins that they belong in. And I can tell you right away that social media is not a static wineskin. As we begin to divide the two, we can preserve the press release, and not muddy the blog.
Tomorrow, we’ll discuss a framework that we can run this through.