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Are Public Relations Professionals Ready For The Real Time Web?

If we take a very basic look at how the public relations works there are a few basic components or steps:

  1. Client has a message to community to an audience
  2. Public relations professional (internal or agency) helps get the message out the door to the audience
  3. Tools are used to help communicate the message (TV, Radio, Newspaper, Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Newswire Service etc)

This model has served the public relations industry for years, or at least they have tolerated it, but now this thing called “social media” has come along and disrupted the traditional model.  It has become cheaper to get a message out to an audience using online and social media tools, and can often reach an audience faster.  YouTube is the largest video site on the planet, Facebook has over 300 million users both attracting massive audiences on a daily basis, so perfect places to communicate a message.

Then Twitter came along and disrupted the “traditional social media” model that we had become accustom to for 2 or so years, all of a sudden media publications started to use Twitter to get their news stories out.   It also became a source for news stories, we’ve broken a few stories over on Profectio by simply following conversations that were happening.  As Twitter’s growth increased with people such as Aston Kutcher, Oprah, and companies such as Dell having success with the service we started to hear this new term “real time web” start to take off.  As Twitter became this source of news and a way to become instantly connected it started to by-pass other forms of communications.

Unfortunately it could be hours before some public relations professions get a press release sent to a newswire service, then have to wait for the service to post it.  By this time chances are that a media outlet who’s on the ball has already received the story from other sources and posted it.  I’ve actually experience this a few times, one time it took an entire day for the pr professional to let me know of a new hire, unfortunately 3 months later they ended up losing the account – hmm, I wonder why?

The real time web isn’t just about a bunch of tools or technology. It starts with you and your sense of urgency to ensure that you are providing your client (internal or external) the best possible service in as timely of a fashion as possible.

You also can not discount the power of search engines such as Google that allow content to be found and search able as a great way to get eyeballs to your content.  Last month Google, Microsoft and Yahoo all made changes to their search engines that incorporate Twitter.  Now as a person is sending out a “tweet” their content will become part of the search results.  It is even said that Google is continuing to re-tweak their search engine and may soon be able to provide updates results within 5 minutes.

More and more major brands are starting to revamp the way they communicate their message to their audiences. As a PR practitioner are you ready for this shift? How is your agency preparing for the real time web?