Somehow many corporate executives and even some PR professionals have lost sight of what public relations is. I still hear people confuse media relations with public relations.
Public Relations: How an organization engages with its publics.
The problem is that many people still assume we’re in 1994 when the only effective way to communicate with the public was via mainstream media. These people insist that public relations is exclusively media relations and staff their organization accordingly. This is a mistake.
Media relations: Working through journalists to reach your publics.
What people need to realize is that these are different activities. Of course, media relations is still valid as a way to get attention. Who doesn't want to be quoted in an important newspaper, magazine, or television show?
Public Relations is about content
PR is about reaching your audience. There are many more ways to do that than just via the media: Great website content, YouTube videos, blog posts, ebooks, charts, graphs, photos, a Twitter feed, a presence in Foursquare, Instagram, and so much more.
A few days ago I wrote about what Vodafone Egypt is doing. There’s no doubt communicating via Facebook and Twitter is public relations for them.
Added bonus: Career advice for Public Relations professionals
I first offered this advice back in 2010 but my sense is that some PR pros still need to hear now: You need to decide if you want to be a public relations expert (helping people reach their publics through, content creation, mainstream media, and social media) or if you want to specialize in the narrower focus of media relations (limit your skills to just influencing mainstream media).
It’s an important distinction. If you want to do the former, you need to learn some new skills.
Photo by David Meerman Scott taken in Cairo airport.