If Twitter Goes, So Will Part of PR

If you’ve been doing PR a certain way for the past 14 years or so, the potential (likely?) demise of Twitter is going to make your job harder, at least in the short term.

That’s a shame.

Sure, those of us who have been active on the platform have had our ups and downs. Just three months ago, a Twitter user wished me death – “Drop Dead” was the actual tweet my way – because I had the audacity (actually professional opinion, based on experience) to criticize Attorney General Merrick Garland for beginning a promised press briefing too late. I thought about withdrawing, but professional upside outweighed any other feelings.

Just three weeks ago, Elon Musk closed on the deal to buy Twitter and I told Crain’s Detroit Business reporter Nick Manes “If Twitter were to diminish, it would leave a void in the PR toolkit. And it’s impossible to see how that would be filled right away.”

Three weeks later, that’s still true.

Twitter is the greatest media relations tool since the demise of the off-the-record lunch. Not only has it provided news lovers doing PR with a constant stream of who’s covering what in real time, but it gave us a glimpse into what particular reporters, editors and producers like and dislike, cover and don’t cover with some personality thrown in, all with room for introduction and interaction. At the same time, PR types, if they have it in them, to prove they’re more than just processors of press releases, separating those who could provide value from those who just hyped nonsense.

How do you replicate that in the digital age, where the offer of a “deskside” gets laughed at on the other end of a pitch? If you had to right now (and as I type, it looks like it could be needed at any minute), you’d come up empty.

Social media is changing before our very eyes when the news business feels like it’s on the cusp of another round of change. For the PR pro who’s serious about news, it’s going to be harder to keep up, harder to connect, harder to stand out.

It feels like it’s about time to pivot, again. In the meantime, email and texts still work… for now.