I've had discussions with quite a few people in the last few months who are confused about the role of Public Relations in the new world of the Web.
These discussions frequently begin when someone asks me this common question: "Is PR dead because of social media?"
The frequency of this question leads me to the conclusion that there is a great deal of confusion around what is Public Relations really is.
Public Relations: How an organization engages with its publics.
Somehow along the way many PR professionals have lost sight of what "true PR" is and have insisted on only caring about mainstream media. They've confused the superset (public relations) with the subset (media relations) and therefore insist that PR is only about mainstream media.
Media relations: Working through journalists to reach your publics.
What people need to realize is that these are different activities. Media relations is still valid as a way to get attention. Of course it is not dead. Who doesn't want to be quoted in an important outlet?
There are so many other ways to communicate with your publics.
PR is about reaching your audience. There are many more ways to do that than just via the media: Brand journalism, YouTube videos, blog posts, ebooks, charts, graphs, photos, a Twitter feed, a presence in Foursquare and so much more.
Of course, these days mainstream media takes cues from what’s hot in social media so a focus on social media can influence journalists too.
Added bonus for reading this far is my career advice for PR pros:
Public Relations professionals will need to decide if they want to be a public relations expert (helping people reach their publics through mainstream media and social media) or if they want to specialize in the narrower focus of media relations (limit your skills to just mainstream media).