I read with shock a recent article in an industry publication (which shall remain nameless) on how social media, while really neat and cool, is only a “value add” to traditional PR which is going strong. I call BULLSHIT (it’s my blog, I can do that). We all know traditional PR. You hire a PR agency to help you create your message and get the word out. They get your attorney quoted in a newspaper, or help you place an article, or get on the right industry panel. They make lots of phone calls, coordinate a reporter calling you back, and bill by the hour, or are on a monthly retainer. That’s starting to change. I spoke to fellow LMA member, and PR professional, Cheryl Bame from Bame Public Relations about this topic:

The goal of public relations is to promote our clients, their businesses and services and to use the media as an avenue to do this. Social media offers us more opportunities to meet our goals. I don’t discount it, but celebrate the increasing number of avenues beyond traditional media outlets to help clients raise their profiles and hopefully, bring in more business.

Cheryl, who recently launched her own blog, www.LegalPRAdvice.com, is already promoting her clients using social media:

I have several examples where non-traditional media, such as blogs, have generated more attention than a traditional news print article. In fact, there are times when a news print article has gone farther than I ever expected as a result of social media.  I have one client who’s popular entertainment industry blog has led to several writing and blogging opportunities for both traditional and non-traditional media outlets. As a PR professional, I now have to stay on top of the changing media landscape so that I can identify which opportunities are best for my clients and their goals, and that my include LinkedIn, Twitter, LegalOnRamp, Wiki, and possibly launching a blog.

So how can traditional PR remain the “go to” medium when journalism itself is evolving? Hmmm, just like legal marketing and business development are evolving. The status quo doesn’t work for legal marketing, and it won’t work for PR either. Period. (It’s my blog and I can have that definitive position). So, what am I doing? I’m watching legal PR specialists who ROCKED it with traditional PR, evolve to the next level. Jennifer Klein, Executive Vice President with Blattel Communications is one of the leaders I’m watching, and she’s weighing in on the topic as well:

There is an entire generation – our future decision makers – that know of no other form of communication.  They have been “born and raised” on social and online media as their primary form of receiving communication.  They don’t know a world without it.  It’s clearly more than “value added.”

And legal marketers aren’t alone. Mashable (which EVERYONE who reads this blog should subscribe to) has an incredible article that you should read and bookmark, The Future of Social Media in Journalism. It breaks down very easily how journalism is changing, and how social media is fueling the news.

… social tools are inspiring readers to become citizen journalists by enabling them to easily publish and share information on a greater scale. The future journalist will be more embedded with the community than ever, and news outlets will build their newsrooms to focus on utilizing the community and enabling its members to be enrolled as correspondents. Bloggers will no longer be just bloggers, but be relied upon as more credible sources.

And all of this is fine and dandy, but we work with lawyers, and one thing we know about lawyers is that they are skeptical and they like stats. Jennifer has compiled some great ones:

From a media standpoint,

  • 64 percent of all journalists follow one or more blogs for research/story generation;
  • more than 75 percent use social media to research stories;
  • 51 percent use Google News/32 percent use Yahoo news to stay abreast of trends.

I suspect,” Jennifer continues,” these stats will continue to increase with the decline of traditional media and shrinking newsrooms.

Bazinga!! I don’t know about you, but articles like this get me excited. We are all living on the cusp of a revolution. It might be more accurate to say that we’re already in it. Really, what other invention in the past couple hundred years has changed HOW we communicate, AND how we conduct our business, at the same time, more-so than the Internet? So, traditional PR. Of course, that personal interaction is important. But, I will argue that it is soon to be the value-add to the social journalism revolution. What say you, Coolerites??