Is PR really over?

Bleak title for the inaugural ‘PR Guy’ post – I know.

But worthwhile I hope.

Respected journalist Dennis Howlett writes:

After 17 years, I’ve come to the end of putting up with what most PR offers. It is time to draw a line in the sand. Accordingly, any PR that emails me gets this standard response: “I’ve stopped accepting email pitches. Please follow me on Twitter and pitch in 140 characters or less.”

And adds:

In any one day I field up to 20 PR requests. I can guarantee that 90+% of them have done zero research to find out what I’m interested in. In the worst cases they won’t have done a basic Google search to find out who I am or where my interests lay. In 2008, that’s beyond unacceptable, it’s criminal. Why?

The overwhelming feedback from online and offline editorial gatekeepers is that the days of blasting out hundreds of emails in the hope that something sticks are numbered.

And the PR profession must listen.

When I began in the public relations industry more years ago than I care to remember, we photocopied journalist addresses onto labels or faxed through for that added element of urgency!  Then, overnight, email gave us the power to contact those journalists with one click of the button.

Imagine the possibilities.  We collected and voraciously stashed email addresses in Outlook.  It became a numbers game – where more emails = more coverage.

Subscription to swanky media databases then even saved us the hassle of updating our info. We were in distribution heaven.

Better still (better for journos too – go on admit it!) copy and paste enabled our skilfully crafted copy to fill column upon column of news copy.

Unsurprisingly I have a vested interest in PR being anything but over.  I think PR people do what they know.  They should know news angles.  They should know how to offer news in concise and informative fashion.

But instead of forcing our releases on hundreds of journalists at a time we need to discover and learn about the power of the blog, website news sections and the full portfolio of social media tools at our disposal.

We also need to re-educate ourselves about the power of personal communication.  Even if it doesn’t fit snuggly into our write-send-and-follow-up model.

The change won’t happen overnight – but, at the very least, we need to demonstrate that we are evolving and open to the new rules of editorial engagement.

More on Dennis’s bleak PR prophecy here

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3 Responses to “Is PR really over?”


  1. 1 Dennis Howlett December 3, 2008 at 6:53 pm

    I look forward to opening PR email with the same enthusiasm I’d reserve for a colonic irrigation.

  2. 2 richardglynn December 4, 2008 at 2:13 pm

    Thanks Dennis. Sounds to me like you might have an overly-aggressive nurse!


  1. 1 Is PR really over? | Fashion by Sarah Trackback on April 12, 2009 at 5:49 am

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