Note: This is the third and final post in a series on howSocial media is making marketing more like PR. This series is an effort to reflect and expand on earlier thoughts on why marketing looks more like PR. Read Part I and Part II.
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The conversational approach is grounded in the idea that people are influenced by other people and brands they trust – and reject commercialization. How do we build influence and earn trust? “Create, post or share compelling content” according to a majority of respondents on this survey on influence.
The conversational approach is inherent to PR professionals because its cornerstone has been media relations, which has given them the experience of working with editorial contacts. Those editorial contacts usually had their eye on compelling content and generally rejected commercialization. Never pitch a product, but pitch a story is a mantra of the solid media relations practitioner and for good reason: stories are conversations and conversations are compelling content.
Relations through conversation are not without clear measures of success: If we engage people they will follow us on Twitter, click on our link, offer their opinions in the comments of our blog posts, and because we’ve earned their trust, they will believe what we say. And if we can accomplish these things, then they might buy our product, if we are company; or donate to our cause, if we are a non-profit; or become a member, if we are an association; or sign our petition if we advocate for change, or give us their vote if we are a politician. Indeed the benefits will exceed the cost.
Marketing gives way to conversation
Convergence may in fact mean that PR as a discipline fades away. Perhaps it already has. In a post that straddles the line between PR and marketing, Todd Defen, the principal at SHIFT Communications wrote, “The distinct discipline of Public Relations no longer exists,” and later concluded, “the labels won’t matter for much longer.” I think he’s right. The labels won’t matter, but the approach will – and that’s why marketing is becoming more like PR.