Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The Long Tail, PR and Relationships

Chris Anderson, who is one of the smartest and nicest guys I know, has a very interesting post on his Long Tail blog on public relations in today's world. There is a lot to learn from what he says.

The post has, in addition, caused me to start thinking about some public relations fundamentals -- which most companies in today's environment seem to have forgotten. Public relations should not be about "ink". It is about building relationships. In fact, I believe that Chris is saying as much in his recommendations. But, I would like to underscore that too many companies have become enamored of press releases and coverage rather than focusing on real understanding. That should be the role of well-trained, top-tier PR professionals. Contacting the various constituencies is very important. But what you say is important also.

I suppose there are some who would accuse me of advocating "spinning" all constituencies. Au contraire. We advocate that a company understand who it is at its core and make sure that all of its "spokespeople" (both formal and informal) understand this essence. This is a very hard goal to accomplish. But it's not impossible. And that's what great PR is all about.

In some ways, the long tail is taking us back to the fundamentals of human communication: used to be before media and then mass media that the only way to get the word out about anything was word of mouth. And because that was an evolutionary thing and people didn't spend a lot of time trying to hype, more often than not, the true essence of an entity just emerged in the market.


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