Studying the impact of innovation on business and society

PR 2.0 Takes the Stage at Web 2.0 Expo – Part I of II

PR 2.0 Panel @W2E

I was invited to moderate a panel at the Web 2.0 Expo entitled, “PR 2.0: Dead as a Doornail, or Still Alive?”

While the session was well attended, I honestly believe that this theme, and the title, was a bit premature and misleading. However, the session description was a bit more on target:

In the online world, PR has lately been viewed as out of fashion — blogs and social networks are “it,” and press releases are passé… or are they? Are dead wood media and reporters no longer relevant, or do they still have reach? How does PR operate today, in a world full of direct communication with customers via web sites, email, blogs, and video? Find out how PR 2.0 combines both old world techniques and new.

My take: With Web 2.0 starting to attract mainstream attention, PR 2.0 (and everything 2.0) has become the golden ticket for misguided and opportunistic marketing professionals.

Suddenly every agency and corporate marketing department is seeking social media strategists and experts in the “new” world of PR two dot oh.

Let me straighten out this common misperception first. PR 2.0 is not because of Web 2.0. It is not about simple blogger relations. Nor is it about corporate blogging, wikis and communities. PR 2.0 is defined by the evolution of industry practices forced by the shift, and the process, of influence.

What if PR people just took the time to read the publications or the blogs they pitch?

What if PR actually used and believed in the products or services they represented?

What if PR could be compelling without its reliance on hyperbole?

What if PR understood the dynamics and interworkings of the Web?

If this was the case, perhaps it wouldn’t be PR any longer..well at least not as we know it today.

I’m sure every PR person will nod their head in agreement, saying, “yeah, PR needs to get it,” as if they’re not directly guilty of also aligning PR as an industry with used car sales. I suppose these are also among the same people that probably believe they drive just as well while talking on the cell phone.

Truth is, that we’re all guilty.


This is the premise of the PR 2.0 philosophy I’ve been talking about since the first boom. PR 2.0 is not formed or fed by Web 2.0 – although now anything 2.0 is in the spotlight. It was, and still is a manifesto for improving our profession in a new age of communications. It is PR Redux, a milestone that documents how PR has evolved more in the last 10 years, than in the last 100.

It was a chance to not only work with traditional journalists, but also engage directly with a new set of accidental influencers, and, it was also our ability (and opportunity) to talk with customers directly.

It was no longer just about audiences. It was now about people.

No BS. No hype. It was, and is, an understanding of markets, the needs of people, and how to reach them at the street level – without insulting everyone along the way. And with social media becoming pervasive, it will only expose those weak in PR and force the industry to improve. The body count will be high.

PR 2.0, therefore, is significant and it is worthy of discussion, rather than ridicule. And let me point out, that there will not be a 3.0 or any other rev numbers, unless there is another tremendous evolution, fusion, or breakthrough in the practice, science, and art of communications.

Up next: The PR 2.0 panel, in their words – with my moderation of course.

4 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “PR 2.0 Takes the Stage at Web 2.0 Expo – Part I of II”

  1. Web2.0PRDude says:

    We call ourselves a Web2.0 PR firm. Our work revolves around a mix of traditional and online activities – strategic communications, research, creating interesting content, natural SEO, interacting with social networks, building blogs and websites, media relations and other activities. Our clients are happy and value us because we “get all that new stuff” and can integrate it with their traditional earned media efforts, marketing and sales practices. To me, Web2.0 is simply a set of read/write technologies that we have creatively applied to our craft.
    There is no conceptual disconnect or dishonesty.


  2. Michael Tangeman says:

    Spot-on, Brian. And thanks for sitting up there sans Kevlar body armor to put this position forward at a forum like Web 2.0.

    Let’s hope that in this new era of public relations, those who learn to combine the use of new and old tools to deliver quality, non-hyped, honest service to their clients and the organizations they serve will outnumber the used-car salespeople that have given p.r. the reputation that it has today.

    It’s not enough that the clients are happy because one has delivered them the capability to use “all that new stuff” to sell their product and message. There’s an opportunity to demonstrate how the “new stuff” may become an effective tool for circumventing the hype and hyperbole that is an embarrassing part of the p.r. business and still deliver in terms of the business and strategic goals of the client.

  3. StoryOfMyLife says:

    Why we like it so much is that the medium and tools are not in some mysterious world that we can’t get through the murk to. The people are real, they’re accessible, and things are more immediate (which is both good and bad).

    It just seems we have so much choice now. of course as with any new start on up a limited budget the choices can be overwhelming (where should I best spend my advertising dollars) but it’s better to have all these choices than be ignorant of them, which is how PR was for so long to non-PR people.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Join Our Mailing List

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Stay Connected