Ian Schafer’s column in Advertising Age’s “Digital Issue” never uses the words public relations, but he’s got a lot to say that’s relevant to Digitally Powered PR.

In, “Why it’s time your brand invested in a creative newsroom,” Schafer, who is CEO of interactive agency, Deep Focus, writes about the need for brands to create timely, relevant content that people want to share.

Click to link to Ad Age Digital Issue

“If there is one thing that we should have learned in this era of social media,” Schafer says, “it’s that people are being drawn to content not through publishers and pages but through people and feeds. The best content is not what surfaces most through search results but what travels most between people.”

Schafer’s perspective supports my view that public relations is moving ever more quickly in to the Post Publicity Era. Publicity isn’t dead, not by any means. It plays a very important role in delivering messages and engaging with target audiences. Need an example: I found Schafer’s column while reading the print version of the Ad Age Digital issue, so even he knows he needs media relations.  Of course, now I’m sharing his excellent content with you.

Schafer’s message, issued as a wakeup call to digital creatives, can also be seen as a red alert to public relations. Evolve or be left behind.

“…the modern digital agency is equipped to lead the next era by thinking as much like a modern newsroom as it does a creative department…The traditional creative process generally includes briefs, brainstorms, boardrooms and 70 rounds of revisions. While this process can lead to rich brand experience, it does not deliver consistent content that is immediately relevant at a given moment time.”

I doubt most digital agencies even see public relations as relevant to this evolution  Oh sure, PR’s great for schmoozing reporters and organizing events, but creating compelling and entertaining content that people want to share? That’s digital, dude.

One of the central roles of public relations has been its position as the timely voice of organizations. Most public relations practitioners have seen that “newsroom” role through the perspectives of “media relations,” “corporate communications” and “investor relations,” noble functions that are vital to business and commerce. Now, we need to lead our organizations in “customer engagement” by developing relevant and creative content that our target publics want to interact with and share.

If digital agencies need to act more like a newsroom, then PR firms need to think more like the digital shops.

Greg Loh is the managing partner of public relations and public affairs at Eric Mower + Associates, one of the nation’s leading independent marketing communications agencies. Views expressed here are his own and do not reflect the opinions of EMA.

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