Friday, October 15, 2010

DIY PR: Leave It To The Professionals

My original post appeared in MediaPost's Marketing Daily on October 14, 2010.

When I was a young adult, I did what many Australians do -- go travelling. I eventually settled in London, in a quaint little town called Richmond Upon Thames. Beautiful in the summertime; miserable, grey and cold for the remaining 10 months of the year.

It was at this time that I discovered the concept of DIY, do-it-yourself home improvements. Temples devoted to all things home decorating were popping up everywhere. The home improvement center, it seemed, was becoming as ubiquitous as the English pub.

It was also around this time that the ghastly trend of sponging paint blobs onto walls took hold. Like the recent trend of becoming a foodie, back then it was being a home decorator. Garden pots, flowerbeds, wallpaper and mouldings. Easy-care, faux wooden treatments and under-floor heating -- I was going all out. My Aussie feet couldn't stand the British cold. Thankfully, I stayed away from refurbing the hot water system, but my home had begun to resemble a construction site. My tiny Victorian cottage was in various states of "improvement," -- my decorating talents and skills having reached their respective limits long ago. It was time to call in the professionals, or risk turning my digs into home decorating hell.

My short-lived calling as a DIY home decorator taught me a valuable lesson. When you need something done for which you do not possess the requisite skills (or time), seek out a professional.

This applies to virtually every industry I can think of: auto, legal, real estate, medical and so on. I can't imagine performing a root canal on myself any more than I can imagine fitting and aligning new tires for my car.

Why then should PR be any different? It is a skilled, bona fide profession, and it takes years to learn the "tools of the trade" and then continuing education -- applying learned theory to an ever-changing reality, to help companies and brands build relationships with their public.


And so I was somewhat offended by the following quote: "PR Agencies Are Dead, Handle Press Yourself," posted on Business Insider by the president of a networking site. I'm going to call him Mr. X -- no need to give him unwarranted PR -- who had the following to say:

"When you had to go through mass media, there's really a handful of media outlets or influential/important reporters. Because there were so few of them that had the ability to publish, there was this whole layer called the PR industry. Well, (now) everybody has the ability to publish. You engage in direct conversations with both traditional journalists and bloggers through the Web. As long as you are willing to be more open and sharing than in the past, now it's much more of a conversation." Mome again?


To read the entire article on MediaPost, please click here.

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