Public Relations Now vs. Then

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There are some things in the world that will never change. And for now, it looks like Public Relations is necessary for firms, organizations, and even people to gain positive exposure in the world.

The World Assembly of PR defines Public Relations as “the art and social science of analyzing trends, predicting their consequence, counseling organization leaders, and implementing planning programs of action that serve both the organization’s and publics interest.”

Years ago, PR was much simpler. Direct mail was used to send off press kits, news spread much slower, press conferences were live and in-person, complete with demonstrations and speeches. Today, with the widespread use of the internet, so many doors have opened that were not possible in the past.

For example, today, news spreads in minutes, even across the whole world. Our technology is much faster and more efficient. Smart phones have Apps which allow for nearly instantaneous access to the internet, and can even notify us when news strikes. Bloggers can spread the word from behind their computer screens, quick phone calls and Skype video chats enable clear and long-distance contact. We even have the ability to stream commercials on the TV based on different geographic regions.

In addition, social media has made an even bigger impact on the PR world in both good and bad ways. With just a clever video on YouTube, word about a film, a cause or an event can go viral, spreading like a wildfire across the internet. This can be extremely helpful, if done right. Of course, there will always be mistakes. For instance, when Dominos workers uploaded a video in which they appeared to be tampering with the pizza, the backlash was huge. The employees in the video were immediately fired, the location of the restaurant was cleaned thoroughly from head to toe, and the CEO of Dominos released his own YouTube video apologizing for the unfortunate incident. This NY Times article digs deeper into the controversy. 

Similar to YouTube, Twitter and Facebook have also blown up into some of the best ways to spread news and create a huge buzz. Liking, sharing, and retweeting are all ways we can connect with anyone in the world. Unfortunately, when crisis strikes, it is much more difficult for a PR team to clear it up. 

For example, with the use of so much social media, the likelihood of making a mistake that others can see is much more heightened. Almost everyday, we see a public figure or celebrity apologizing for something they inappropriately tweeted. Examples of tweets gone wrong are below:

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Photos found here

In the past, if word about an inappropriate comment got out to the press, a PR expert could claim that the statement was taken out of context or that it was misunderstood. But when someone’s Twitter account directly states something offensive, there is no way to take it back or blame anyone else. 

More recently, Buzzfeed.com posted this interesting collection of the top 5 PR disasters of this year so far, including Justin Bieber’s meltdown that was recorded on video and even an incident in Denmark where a zoo killed a perfectly healthy giraffe in front of park visitors. With the help of internet and social media, word about both of those events spread in moments, causing a quick and disastrous upheaval.

Although there are many differences between PR now and then, some things remain stable. The world always has and always will want the truth from credible, reliable sources in a speedy manor, so even as the world continues to evolve, PR will evolve with it. 

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