Smoking Gun MD Rick Guttridge pays his last respects to a dying PR industry


The writing was on the wall years ago, and it’s too late now for those that didn’t take action then. Public relations has had its day, advertising and marketing too, but that’s fine by me, so read on to find out why you shouldn’t care either.
In Britain social networks are more popular than news and magazine websites, and social networking is our favourite online activity. Yes, even ahead of pornography and shopping. Media, or more accurately progressive media, and the way in which it’s consumed, is now unrecognisable compared with half a decade ago. And anyone who’s heard about PR mogul Mark Borkowski’s new agency will know what that means for public relations.
After running his own firm for 24 years the revered publicist moved to set up Borkowski.do this summer. Employing professionals from a wide skillset brands are serviced with truly integrated campaigns that engage communities online, on the street, and through the media thanks to well strategised delivery of highly specialised content across all platforms, from Facebook to prime time TV.
Gollin Harris, another respected international PR firm, has also rejected traditionalism. Talented staff from varied backgrounds are now divided into four ‘communities’, each concentrating on a niche area of a client’s overall account; planning for the future, connecting with audiences, creating content or overseeing the integration of all three. And it’s likely new roles and job areas will be introduced in the future as demand grows for campaigns that require minds from even more disciplines.
Great storytelling has always been central to great public relations. But the difference is now there’s no telling what can happen once Joe Public gets his status updates into your carefully honed key messages. As such the emphasis must be placed not just on the context within which content is published or publicised, but also the consistency, creativity, and coherency of a message across all media, social, traditional or other. With that in mind, and a nod of respect to the old guard generalists, it’s time to embrace this specialist future of niche thinkers.
Because in an age where standing still always means falling behind it’s vitally important to understand that we’ve changed the way we think, the way we operate, and the skillset we require from our staff. The end result is that PR jobseekers should be increasingly aware that a degree in public relations may not be the best route to industry success. PR is dead, long live storytelling.