Parable of PR's Passing Preposterous

This month in the Harvard Business Review, Bill Lee, a customer loyalty consultant and author, published quite an interesting article titled: “The Death of Traditional Marketing and the Rise of Inbound” in which he writes: “Traditional marketing – including advertising, public relations, branding and corporate communications – is dead. My reply to that? Bill Lee is dead wrong.

In his piece, Lee argues that traditional marketing communications is outdated and no longer effective in “today’s social media-infused environment where individuals seek out information “in their own way” (i.e. internet, blogs, social media) rather than through what he and others deem irrelevant avenues (i.e. newspapers, TV).

In reality, when done right, social and traditional avenues should work hand-in-hand to create effective multi-platform public relations/communications strategies that build brands and relationships. Social media often works best when it further leverages the third-party credibility of print, broadcast or online news stories. And where does most blog, Facebook and Twitter fodder come from? You guessed it – traditional media sources.

It is too bad that such a prestigious source of information was duped by a “sexy” headline. Public relations, branding, corporate communications, etc. are all essential to assisting companies to adeptly create their messages and tell their stories for consideration by the audiences they want to reach. If that doesn’t happen, what are clients and customers to react to? To become and stay relevant, it is not about one or the other; it is about all of the above.