Much like how modes of communication have evolved over the years, PR, like a persistent virus, has managed to evolve as well. Its journey might have had a lot of bumps, falls and fatigued attempts at keeping up with a very rapidly changing world but I like to believe that it has managed to prove that despite all the advancements, it still is a force to be reckoned with.
People look to the advantages of social media and what it has done for communication between individuals-individuals, brands-individuals and individuals-brands and say that one does not need to go through the typical motions PR would normally do, however, when making announcements about a company or new product, they tend to present it in the format typical of a media release. PR anyone?
Also, there is the fact that social media (especially in developing countries) still has a way to go and does not reach ALL audiences. In order to get through to certain audiences, newspaper, trade publications and broadcast media – among other outlets – still play an important role. Don’t get me wrong, social media is integral to communications today and this cannot be over-emphasised. Take American governance for example, tweets from the Presidency are now regarded as policy. LOL!!!
I remember having a conversation with another Nigerian PR practitioner about the correlation between customer service and PR and he stated that customer service must be a department or office under the Public Relations division of the company/organisation. Customer service is an immediate touch point between brand and public. It can build relationships, provide a positive experience, correct mistakes and make your products/services more accessible. At the same time, it is also a very easy way for a company to go viral for the wrong reasons viz 2014’s US Airways porn disaster (https://www.digitaltrends.com/social-media/us-airways-says-sorry-after-tweeting-porn-image-to-disgruntled-flier/)
PR in the traditional sense will never die. Yes, I said it. Like how its processes are being crossed with social and digital media, it will just have to follow where the winding road of communications leads. Bottom line, as long as there are publics, there will always be a need for PR, traditional or otherwise.