Public Relations was once an exclusive club. PR people used lots of jargon and set strict rules that needed to be followed. If you weren't part of the "in crowd," PR seemed like an esoteric and mysterious job that required lots of training, sort of like Space Shuttle astronaut or court stenographer.
PR people occupied their time by writing press releases targeted exclusively to reporters and editors and in schmoozing the media. And they hoped (…oh, please write about me… cross fingers...) that the media would honor them by writing something in newspapers and magazines (or putting something on TV and radio). The end result of the efforts—the ultimate goal of PR in the old days—was the "clip" that proved they had done their job.
Prior to the Web, Public Relations professionals who worked at companies or at PR agencies focused exclusively on efforts to get third parties (the reporters and editors) to say something positive. The tools and tactics that helped PR pros to be successful included issuing press releases, creating printed media kits, and engaging reporters and editors in the hopes that the company story would be told in magazines, newspapers, radio, and television. Great PR people had personal relationships with the media and could pick up the phone and pitch a story to the reporter that they had bought lunch for the month before.
Prior to 1995, outside of paying big bucks for advertising or working with the media, there just weren’t any significant options for a company to tell its story to the world.
Not anymore. The Web has changed the rules.
Today, organizations are communicating directly with buyers.
The Internet has made public relations public again, after years of almost exclusive focus on media.