Public relations is what you do with what you know and what others think about what you say.
Just after Facebook went public with an IPO of over $100 billion, Mark Zuckerberg updated his status on his own Facebook page: “Mark listed FB on NASDAQ.” Is this comment a form of public relations (PR)? Yes, Zuckerberg decided to publish some information about Facebook to the wider public. However, it is not the way PR traditionally used to work. In his case, no communiqué was written, no news embargo was requested, and surely no PR agency was hired to do this update. No, Zuckerberg just updated Facebook. That’s it!
Is doing public relations work in an era of social media data as easy as updating a Facebook page? Yes and no! Many startups and smaller enterprises are profiting from this ease. Social media has created a “long tail” for PR activity similar to how online advertisements within Google or other services became more affordable for small and medium businesses. Will this in turn mean that we have reached the end of the PR profession? Not at all—in fact, the opposite is the case. Because of all of the new possible ways to communicate, PR work has become more complex. However, we now have more and better data with which to analyze the effectiveness of PR.
As James E. Gruning states it in his quote at the beginning of this chapter, public relations has two major tasks: to distribute and to warn. On the one hand, company information has to ...