The generally accepted definition of public relations according to the Public Relations Society of America says that PR “helps an organization and its publics adapt mutually to each other” (2011). Since the early 1900s, it has been the communication vessel between corporations and the community.
With recent technological advances, public relations has been forced to make large adjustments to their traditional methods of practice. In fact, the marketing industry as a whole has shifted from what is still labeled in textbooks as “traditional media” (TV, print ads, billboards) to new, or digital, media. That is not to say that the old ways should be abandoned altogether. On the contrary, these traditional forms of media have withstood the test of time and will continue to be tools in the public relations process.
The true test for public relations is going to be combining the tried-and-true methods of traditional media with the digital, Web 2.0 tools that are now available. And it is especially challenging because both methods have wildly different implementation schemes. While in traditional media, proven formulas are adjusted to meet company needs, digital marketing requires a bit of experimentation.
As we continue to learn about the capabilities of the digital realm, businesses will learn new ways to connect to the public. Though the promise of the web has been around for several years now, the promise remains largely unscathed. Opportunity is out there for a marriage between social media and public relations. Someone just needs to set these two up.