To understand the public relations' ambiguous reputation, looking at its origins focuses on the industry's roots in the media industry.
In a scathing article by Paul Holmes in 2011, he proclaimed that,
“The conflation of media relations and public relations is a venal sin.”Yet in an article dated April 2019 (preceding the pandemic), Richard Edelman disagrees in an interview stating, "If my theory is correct, earned creative is really going to be a very important means by which companies communicate directly with the end user. We’re unique in that we come to the table with earned creative that can actually lead."
Since the pandemic, it is as if Edelman were a fortune teller. Facing the same situations as our pioneers in the 1920, this could be the perfect timing for the public relations industry to find itself in a position to steer a brand creatively rather than being consigned to the supporting role.
Consumption of news has never been this fierce; it is the rapid earned media skill of traditional PR which happens to be in tune with the news media that PR offers which marketing and advertising cannot.
It is this which fuels the public relations industry. Richard Edelman's belief that "earned creative will transform the industry, helping it unlock marketing budgets and lead brand-building campaigns”, rings truer now than it has in a century.
Unique PR service now called editorial
Media relations is no longer relegated to history, 2020’s mass media consumption and uncertainty is the engine of the public relations industry today. Good quality content, vetted and endorsed through sincere relationships with journalists, is the unique PR service now called editorial and fiercely sought after.
History has also shown how brands that pivot crises have done so by maintaining or capitalising on brand awareness. Since public relations is delivered quickly and communicated through earned or owned conversations rather than paid messaging, the opportunity for the PR industry is clear.
The world has had to adapt, and some traditional media haven't been able to keep up, but the fluidity of ‘media relations’ is not confined to any one type of medium. However, the shrinking newsrooms do not help PR pros in securing editorial - journalists are bombarded with press releases and there are too few journalists to produce news fast enough to satisfy the public’s appetite.
Public relations is well positioned to help clients best articulate and manifest their clients’ brand purpose, and then communicate as appropriately in the target or mass media. PR can be that creative messaging guide during this time when timing and authenticity are paramount.