Yes, Thomas, we do have to throw out those OLD RULES of PR

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Old Rules of PR - May they RIP

Old Rules of PR - May they RIP

When one of my new PR students read last week’s post listing David Meerman Scott’s NEW RULES for PR & Marketing, he suggested that the old rules were still useful.

Perhaps some “old rules” may be, but not the ones DMS pointed out. Here below is my response to Thomas’ comment:

Thomas, have you ever heard the old cliche, “Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater”? That expression was the first thing that came to mind when I read your comment. In other words, when you are “cleaning up,” make certain that you don’t throw out EVERYTHING.

So I thought I’d reexamine those OLD RULES and decide if any were really worth saving:

1. The only way to get ink was through the media.

Of course, with social media, we are all publishers and do not require the mainstream media to tell our stories.

2. Companies communicated to journalists via press releases.

Organizations of all types — profit, nonprofit, government, etc. — can bypass journalists by posting releases on their own sites as well as using many different platforms to communicate with buyers, employees, community members, shareholders, and any other stakeholders they wish to reach.

3. Nobody saw the actual press release except a handful of reporters and editors.

That’s just not true anymore. People searching for our companies and/or the products we carry and/or services we provide can find releases and news and information on our websites as well as more dynamic platforms like our blogs and Twitter accounts.

4. Companies had to have significant news before they were allowed to write a press release.

DMS tells us over and over that the more we communicate directly with our buyers, the better relationships we can build — and that means sharing lots of newsworthy items, not simply “significant events.”

5. Jargon was okay because the journalists all understood it.

Jargon doesn’t work. You want your audiences to understand everything — about your company and you. Jargon does not figure at all in an Authentic World where Transparency is Key.

6. You weren’t supposed to send a release unless it included quotes from third parties, such as customers, analysts, and experts.

Now these 3rd party quotes easily find their way to the people through tweets, blogs, and updates. People do want to hear from their friends — and social media makes those recommendations so easy.

7. The only way buyers would learn about the press release content was if the media wrote a story about it.

With the opportunity to publish your releases on your own internet platforms — as well as the availability of both free and fee-based wire services, you no longer need to depend entirely on the mainstream media. However, if your messages “go viral,” you can be guaranteed that the media will find you and reinforce your message even more.

8. The only way to measure the effectiveness of press releases was through “clip books,” which noted each time the media deigned to pick up a company’s release.

Measuring ROI has a host of new tools including Google Analytics as well as blog comments and social media update — all of which are easily accessible through tools and search. Of course, for many businesses the true measurement of effectiveness has nothing to do with “clips” and everything to do with sales.

9. PR and marketing were separate disciplines run by different people with separate goals, strategies, and measurement techniques.

It seems safe to conclude that marketing is going to have to be ALL about getting out the brand reputation and the brand message to various audiences — and that is what Public Relations has ALWAYS  been about.

So one remaining question could be: What OLD RULES do you think we ought to keep?

Next post: My new Road Map for becoming an ACE: Active Contributor & Engager

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Posted by Shari Weiss   @   18 July 2009
Tags : , , , , , , ,
Jul 19, 2009
3:51 am

Thanks for adding to the discussion here. Glad my book helped to spark it. I think one of the considerations is offline marketing & PR vs. online. Sure, if you want to exhibit at tradeshow, buy Yellow Page ads, or pitch a radio show, many of the “old rules” are fine. But to be successful offline, you need to think differently.

Best, David

Jul 20, 2009
12:33 am
#2 Alisa :

From my perspective, I believe some of the old rules are still useful to target audiences that are over 60 years old.(#1 and #7) While new technologies are great PR tool for attracting the new generations that are tech savvy, it might not be such a great approach for companies that are trying to inform to the older generations that might not even own a computer.

Jul 20, 2009
11:31 am
#3 J Stdy Rockn :

I really think that the old rules of PR are still somewhat relevant but with new technology and being connected every where, its easier to get out there. Social media networks and blog sites are revolutionary to self promoters, and with the right strategy to create buzz, there is no need for press releases or mainstream media exposure.

Jul 26, 2009
5:17 pm

Before reading this blog, I still believed that the old rules of media marketing still worked. Even while I was in my public relations class with Shari, I still struggled with the fact that old media rules didn’t work anymore. But after reading this blog, I think I have finally gotten it. My mind has finally changed in what I think about the old and new rules of marketing. Although, not in the way I thought it would. But I’ll get to that after I go rule by rule and my opinion on it.
1. I still think that ink works. I feel that ink in more of the advertising in newspaper, magazines, and posters still work after taking me learning and advertising theory class. But I will say that it is definitely not the only way to get one’s message across- that’s for sure.
2. I think this one is one of the biggest ones. It is important that one is able to bypass journalists with press releases. In today’s world – that would be too long and journalists don’t hold as much power as they used to.
3. I would say this one is not as good anymore as well. It would be better for a company to go straight to its buyers-to get the word out- if a company is able to do so, why not use the advancement in technology and its uses.
4. I agree with this one not being as main as it used to be. To me, this old rule seems all about politics in what events you have been told to listen to and follow- not about the product. Companies need to build relationships, and make aware of their product.
5. Jargon in today’s world would be a hindrance. Buyers/consumers would feel out of place and feel that a company is too corporate just with it’s words. DSM is completely right on this topic.
6. I would definitely say that this is an old form of marketing. With too many quotes and stats, it can sound unreal and fake to buyers/consumers. People would rather feel like they are connecting to real people instead of a robot.
7. We can all say as consumers, that we wish we new about products that were out there, but have never been told about. We have all been on Google and searched for something we needed that we had not heard of before.
8. I don’t think anyone can disagree with this- I can definitely say this is old PR and there are no uses of clip books. Clip books are outdated themselves.
9. Yes, marketing and PR agencies have to work together, for they basically do the same thing.

So as I said before, I totally thought that the old rules of marketing still worked. As I can see in comments before me, I can see that others have said the same thing. But it has finally clicked din my head. It’s not that the old marketing rules don’t work anymore; it’s just that the new rules work better. It’s not about the old rules being false or not, it’s about what rules are now better in the impact, work, and usefulness for companies. Thus, the new rules are way more helpful in achieving goals for new companies.

Jul 26, 2009
8:56 pm
#5 Roya Emadi :

This is really eye opening. Before reading all of this and before reading DMS’s book, I was absolutely certain that most of these rules still applied. Now I know that there are many, many better alternatives when it comes to Marketing and PR. For me, the most shocking points are the following:

1. The only way to get ink was through the media.
– Hooray for YouTube!! Now, anyone has the opportunity to get noticed. They just need to do it in the right way. People are able to get themselves noticed on their own, then the media comes running. It used to be the other way around. Now you don’t have to wait to be noticed by some big network. You can do it yourself.

2. Companies communicated to journalists via press releases.
– Do we even need journalists anymore?

7. The only way buyers would learn about the press release content was if the media wrote a story about it.
– This one, I never really thought about. Before taking this class, I never really payed too much attention to online media, blogs, etc. I get almost all of my news from news releases on television. It really does make more sense to have these available directly through the internet. We can watch, listen, and absorb it all instantly!

9. PR and marketing were separate disciplines run by different people with separate goals, strategies, and measurement techniques.
– Up until now, I always thought that Marketing and PR were the same. I never knew; was never properly educated. Marketing is all about telling your potential buyers about your product or service. This does work, but PR needs to be brought into the equation. Marketers need to form relationships with their potential buyers to turn them into actual buyers.

Instead of just talking about the product, PR people learn to inform the buyers about what their products can do for them and how they can help solve problems. This is a much, much better technique. People like to feel personal connections and feel like they are unique. People do not like to be mass-marketed to. It is impersonal, generic, and feels fake. Most of the time, it is!

Jul 28, 2009
9:47 pm
#6 Sheena Diaz :

With the PR class as one of the last two courses I will take as a student at SFSU, it has really opened my eyes to the “real world”. First off, I’m quite glad that the professor chose a “textbook” so-to-speak that it is relevant to today rather than using a clunky book created years ago. DMS’s book has brought to light the many ideas that have been put in the background with all other marketing courses that use outdated textbooks. Indeed, the world of marketing and PR is constantly changing and some of the things in DMS’s book may not even be relevant anymore as I type. Here are my thoughts on some of the OLD rules of PR:

2) Companies communicated to journalists via press releases.

Companies no longer need to even go through journalists to get the word out on a topic. By posting the news on their own website, on twitter, and all the many growing Social Media platforms, they are able to get the information to more people than just journalists.

4) Companies had to have significant news before they were allowed to write a press release.

This rule needs to be thrown out for the rest of eternity. Nobody no longer needs to wait for something MAJOR to happen before writing a press release. Buyers and those interested in the company want to be updated on the company as often as possible. The more buyers know, the more trustworthy the company is in their eyes because they are aware of what’s going on. By imposing this rule, those most vulnerable to change feel as though the company is hiding things.

5) Jargon was okay because the journalists all understood it.

Nobody wants to be spoken to in a way that makes them feel uneducated and illiterate. Although within a company its usually okay to use terms that are common and known, releases that are meant for a broader spectrum need to be able to be understood full on. If not, it’s as if you’re reading in a foreign language. That in turn causes your message to lose its importance to those a company is trying to reach.

As a person who sells things for a living, I have learned that it is not the product features a customer/buyer cares about, it is what benefit they are gaining from the product. What problem in their life this product will fix. PR people need to realize that people care more about what is relevant to their everyday lives rather than mumble-jumble than means absolutely nothing.

Jul 28, 2009
10:41 pm
#7 Jessica Lim :

Before taking this PR class and reading David Meerman Scott’s book, my knowledge of PR was all that were included in the old rules. I am thankful to know the new rules because I don’t believe the old rules are worth saving. These days, the old rules do not contribute to successfully creating the desired online presence. The new rules are the key success tools marketing and PR people should use and shouldn’t waste their time using jargon and writing solely to journalists. As days go by, less and less people are listening to the radio and watching the news on television. Sadly, some newspaper companies are going out of business. It is time to think and act smart.

Jul 28, 2009
11:19 pm
#8 Jason Khorge :

Reading the Old Rules PR for the first time as a senior, I believed that they still would have had an effect on the market.
As I read chapter after chapter of our DMS textbook, I didn’t get an efficient grasp on reasons why the Old Rules were thrown out. When reflecting on these rules I came to some conclusions on reasons for alternatives.

1. Ink is a traditional way to reach markets but now with social media out there people are more likely to get discovered. This helps put a face and a voice behind a quote or message that someone is delivering.

3. This is very outdated, we have so many advances in technology that companies can say their part and let it be known to the world at a click of a button.

6. What?? This sounds boring we don’t just want to hear direct quotes, hearing others opinions is what causes drama. Drama attracts all audiences.

7. I never put too much thought into this because I always hear from another source about a new market item. But why not let the internet bring it to you at your convenience?

9. Marketing and PR should work together as one because two minds are obviously better than one. They also have very similar functions that they can use as a team.

Maybe some of these Old Rules of PR can still be used today. But what effect will they have on the market if any? Marketing and PR firms need to put out products that fit their potential buyers. My using Social Media they will be able to reach us in a much faster and savy way.

Jul 29, 2009
2:13 am
#9 Erika Motomura :

This is my first elective Marketing class, and I was surprised that this class (Public Relations) is mostly about marketing and PR using Web, not ink works.

My first impression of “marketing and PR” was totally old rules because I did not know that the Web and blogs are more effective than mainstream media because I am still influenced by mainstream media.

I think that ink is still useful material; however, it is not the ONLY way to through the media. As the Web develops, many people who are not journalists have an opportunity to read press release so that jargon just wo’t be effective anymore.

Jul 29, 2009
9:58 am
#10 Liz Looney :

First of all, rule seven, which states that “the only way buyers would learn about the press release content was if the media wrote a story about it”, seems completely untrue nowadays. Social media tools are revolutionary and have drastically changed the world as we know it. Prior to Twitter, Facebook, blogging, and other forms of social media, press releases were directed primarily to journalists. However, as a result of evolution of social media, press releases are now directed to anyone who has an Internet connection and access to the computer.

In addition to rule seven, which I strongly disagree with, I also believe that rule one, “the only way to get ink was through the media” no longer applies today for several reasons. Yes, ink is a great way to reach the media, however magazine and newspaper advertisements no longer seem to be the only way, especially due to the fact that no one is buying either of the two. Instead, people are flocking to their computers and are reading other’s blogs, Twitter pages, and are even accessing the magazines/newspapers online. I agree with you Shari, when you say, “we are all publishers and do not require the mainstream media to tell our stories,” but would like to add some of my own points in addition to your comment. Although the mainstream media does help to publish stories, it is not the only way to do so, as discussed previously. I think this Old Rule, without a doubt, no longer applies. After all, as DMS said in his book, “the big hits from getting to the little guy”. In my opinion, bloggers today have more power than mainstream media currently has. More importantly, would we even be questioning the Old Rules of Marketing and PR, if DMS did not decide to hand out advance copies of his book to bloggers? Highly doubtful. I think this example of DMS’s success shows how mainstream media is no longer the only way to get ink out there.

In conclusion, I could continue to elaborate on all of the rules, but for the most part, I agree with what you said in your blog. I do not think the Old Rules apply anymore as a result of the technological savvy world that we are living in. Furthermore, I must agree with Deidre when she says, “It’s not that the old marketing rules don’t work anymore; it’s just that the new rules work better” and believe she best sums up my feelings on the Old Rules.

Jul 29, 2009
11:29 am
#11 Tam Chung :

The old rules of Marketing and PR are no longer a competitive advantage for firms in today’s media; however, their relevant theories are still important and essential for businesses to thrive.

For example, rule # 1 may no longer be applicable to internet users because of the capability of social media, but the “most effective” way to get publicity for products/services is still through mainstream media. There is a limit on the amount of exposure viral marketing, blogging and other social media tools can create for products/services. Successful marketing or PR campaigns must involve the mass media.

Furthermore, products/services cannot excel in or complete the growth stage of a product lifecycle without being pushed by the mass media. Before we discount the old rules of Marketing and PR in their entirety, let’s remind ourselves that roughly 25% of the US population does not have access to the internet and most internet users do not have time to surf or browse the web for things that they do not immediately need.

Jul 29, 2009
1:12 pm
#12 Takayuki Umemoto :

Actually, I did not know much about PR before taking this PR class and reading this blog and DMS’s book because I thought PR is not for buyers but for journalists and editors.

We often learn about a company and a product through a magazine by those journalists and editors. However, what I have learned in PR class is that PR is now for buyers. A company or organization can communicate with buyers directly via Internet, especially social media. Therefore, the way of PR should be changed in order to be more effective and efficient.

2. Companies communicated to journalists via press releases.

As DMS’s book and Shari say, companies can communicate to journalists via blog, twitter, and other social media. Also, companies can communicate to their buyers, employees, partners, etc.

3. Nobody saw the actual press release except a handful of reporters and editors.

Nowadays, companies can post their press release on the Internet, and everybody around the world can see it. However, it is very important for companies to know how to optimize “search engine ranking.”

5. Jargon was okay because the journalists all understood it.

Obviously, everyone might see the release, so Jargon should not be used. Instead, companies should use words which all people can understand.

As I stated above, PR should be changed because of the Internet and social media. It seems that OLD Rules cannot be survived anymore.

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