Gini Dietrich

Isn't PR About Developing and Fostering Relationships?

By: Gini Dietrich | July 7, 2009 | 

Even though I tweeted the July 4 New York Times article, “Spinning the Web: PR In Silicon Valley”, it’s created quite a stir in our industry and I’d be remiss in not commenting on it.

The PR industry is changing. That’s right. I said it. The PR industry is changing. We need to get on the bandwagon already. A survey by IABC showed that two out of three communicators think Twitter is a fad. I think most communicators are as fearful as their clients about change and getting out of their comfort boxes. I also think Twitter eventually will be a bunch of PR people talking to a bunch of PR people, but there will be a new technology that will continue to allow us to develop and foster relationships online.

But isn’t this what PR is all about? Developing and fostering relationships? So why would any of us, as the New York Times article suggests, IGNORE any of the relationships we’ve spent our careers building? If they’re still in business, as are the major newspapers, magazines, and bloggers, isn’t it our job to make sure we reach all of them, in addition to the influencers who can be found on the social networks?, on behalf of our clients?

At Arment Dietrich, we always talk about how our ideal client allows us to marry traditional and new communication for better results. We like social media because it’s MUCH easier to measure than traditional communication. But we also don’t ignore mainstream media just because a client says the blogger or reporter is cynical.

I’m willing to bet TechCrunch, AllThingsDigital, and GigaOM will never take a call, pitch, tweet, email, or Facebook message from Brooke Hammerling or anyone on her team ever again. Which truly is a disservice to any of their tech clients.

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

  • Gini, you’re right on target about our responsibility to develop and foster relationships. If we are not in the business to foster a relationship between us, our companies, our products or services, and the end-users, our valuable clients, then what in the world are we doing? That makes us no more than one-hit wonders who spend way too much money and time on acquisition marketing. It also creates a shallow, empty sale that has no chance of life or loyalty after initial payment.

    If we are really communicating, marketing and developing the relationships you suggest with a well-defined plan in mind, then it is our responsibility to identify our target markets, to define where they exist, where they hang out, where they live, what they read, where they do business, and more. This lends itself to the elimination of random acts of marketing.

    If we have taken the time to define and find our potential/clients, then being on Twitter, whether with or ahead of our clients, is a natural extension of that process.

    Who cares if Twitter is replaced next year with the next, new, shiny application? I hope that doesn’t happen because of what I see as its enormous potential. But if it does, our responsibility has not changed, and that is to talk to our clients where they are, or where they are going to be, or where we invite them to be. We don’t have the luxury of sitting this one out, waiting to see what comes and goes so we can camp on what stays. Technology is changing at such a rapid pace that there will be tools that will come and go regularly. If we pay attention to the definition of our clients and what messages they need to hear from us, then we can decide what applications merit our attention.

  • I agree with you Gini. Even if Twitter is a fad, I have met and conversed with more new people in the past couple months than I have in the past 2 years. Now, it is my job to make the most out of the connections I’m making. Whether it’s someone who I can offer help to professionally, someone whom I’d like to work for or with, or simply someone who can recommend a good mechanic, these are all valuable connections or may be at some point in the future.

  • Good post Gini. There are signs already for people being bored for social media as a hype. That means it’s finding its place as one more communication channel. I see all this as an increase of channels, not that they would be replacing “old” media so much, but bringing new ones in.

    Social media is very simple: people talking to each other, so no major changes anywhere, but increased ways for us to keep up the good PR. We just have to be aware what’s going on and use the best of it.

  • You’re so right. The PR industry is changing… Perhaps we need another PR-Paul Revere-to proclaim that on the social (and MSM) networks.

    But while some things may change – the essence of our profession remains constant: We are relationship builders and storytellers.

    And it’s our job to reach out to relevant new audiences whether they’re traditional media, bloggers or other influencers on or off social networks.

  • While Twitter may be the hot Flavor of the Month, and we all may just be blogging about PR and blogging to other PR bloggers, there is something more to it.

    Brian Solis had a nice response to the NYT piece, also arguing for Relationship Building.

    His points are valid: It’s the Public in PR; the Social in social media; it’s the interaction and engagement that helps us develop relationships, and grow as professionals. FWIW.

  • If Twitter is a fad, then so is the Internet. It’ll change and evolve, but the REASON for it will not go away any more than “the Web.” 🙂

  • Long live Al Gore, the Interwebs, the public in PR, and the social in social media! I also love that Solis says PR is not publicity and PR is not spin (hence the inception of this very blog!).

    Let’s focus on the relationships, people! It’s what we’ve done since our industry began.

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  • I’m not in the PR business. I’m just a CEO who runs a business. Learning, growing and creating new relationships is a part of my job. I met Gini on Twitter which led me to her blog etc. and this can be said for many new relationships. If it is Twitter or another vehicle it is still all about the relationship. If you are not growing, you are dying.

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