I had an argument with a colleague a couple of weeks ago about 'digital PR'. We, as an agency have been working on-line ever since we started in 2003. All our content is pushed out into the on as well as off line environments.
Over the years we've either brokered partnerships or had clients from most of the prolific social media and search engine players. But most of our clients, including the internet ones, still measure success by traditional coverage. So when I asked - 'are we really utilising all new digital avenues?' Its no surprise that I was greeted with some confusion and a commentary listing the last 5 years digital results, awards and positive client feedback.
This is my issue. We all know about the proliferation of channels and convergence of media. We all know about the influence of the internet, the compelling examples of millions of dollars being wiped off of share prices because of one leaked memo or a short clip on YouTube. But is the PR world (or at least in the UK) really equipped to monetise the digital arena?
I watch the space closely, I see others either opening digital departments, making acquisitions from the digital design and strategy space or indulge in high profile hires. But does any of this really work? I see that is serves either as an add on that never really integrates or just expensive window dressing. In my, somewhat uneducated opinion - you can talk strategy till the cows come home but the real value only comes when you're in the space - not on the side lines talking a good game, but centre field participating in the match (if you know me, the fact I've used a football analogy is odd). And this just comes with a bit of confidence and a slightly cavalier attitude.
As PR people we are trained to find the client's story, what will motivate someone else to write about it - I hate being in-front of the camera, that's why I'm in PR, so I can stand behind it and tell someone else what to say. So suddenly, to be in the game, we have to look to ourselves, put our own opinions out there - engage our peers on what we think, not what our clients think. This is harder than it sounds. Even writing this I'm tempted to talk about our 'ground breaking work' or our 'fantastic clients'! But you can go to our website or see our glossy credentials for that - our carefully manicured 'shop window'. Added to the confidence needs to be some staying power - it was a massive eye opener for a 'twitterholic' friend, that an intelligent and savvy colleague couldn't work out how to login to Twitter. But the truth is, it's not second nature to the majority, hence you need to stay with it and loose yourself in the myriad of communities and sites to really get to grips with it all.
Only once you've had a go yourself can you start to understand where the real opportunities are and how you can make money from it!