News of PR’s death

The Economist has a profile of Robert Scoble, aka The Scobleizer at Microsoft and the impact his blog has had on humanizing Microsoft’s reputation. It goes on to quote Bruce Lowry, PR boss at Novell, who predicts blogs will replace press releases.

‘Mr Scoble himself is careful to make no such sweeping predictions. He thinks that there will always be a place for traditional PR, with its centrally controlled corporate message, alongside the spontaneous cacophony of blogs. Microsoft’s official PR boss will not even comment at all on the subject. Sun’s Mr Schwartz is also circumspect. “It’s not the end of PR but the end of the old PR
department,” he says. “The clarifying force will be credibility and
reputation.” The truth is, nobody yet knows how corporate blogging will

Andy Lark, Mr Schwartz’s erstwhile colleague, adds this on his blog:

important message is that social networking technologies and
participatory communications will force structural change on PR
departments. Change in terms of the people required, budget allocation
and focal points. And as with all change involving networking
technologies, the advantage will go to the first movers.’

Certainly these technologies, blogs, RSS, wikis etc, are changing the channels through which companies can communicate. That brings with it new responsibilities in terms of transparency, speed of response and openness. But I think the core skills of communication remain largely the same, we just have more options to chose from to get the message out, and of course now, the ability for the audience to respond, enhance and modify that message.