Is Online PR About Messaging, Listening, or Both?

I get the impression the PR firms are currently in the middle on a painful transition from being broadcasters to conversationalists.

By this, I mean that PR folks come across as being good at helping companies determine what their public message should be in order to build trust and sell products or services. While that’s fine, a new version of this is quickly becoming hard to ignore.

It’s a tough concept for many traditional PR people to understand, but that doesn’t make it any less valuable. The term I use for it is, “listening.”

While sitting in a boardroom and deciding what customers want to hear over a bagels and coffee has its place, it’s hardly as effective as listening to what actual customers are saying about your company’s products or services in real time online.

I get the impression that some PR firms have caught onto this concept and are now providing their clients with reports on “what people are saying about you online.” And, I get the impression that these updates are provided at regular intervals such as monthly.

That’s a good start, but it falls way short of what should be happening. What needs to happen is real time reactions to comments rather than simply aggregating pissed off commentaries. You’ll still need to do the aggregations, but you’ll nip a lot more PR disasters in the bud by proving that business can listen and respond.

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