This week I attended the Girls in Tech and the Horn Group panel called “Is Social Media Killing PR?” at the Horn Group offices. The panel included Kara Swisher, a tech columnist for the Wall Street Journal’s All Things Digital; Susan Etlinger, a digital media strategist for the Horn Group; and Jeremiah Owyang, a Web strategist with Forrester Research.
While the conversation started about social media, very quickly it turned into the age-old issue about PR folks making irrelevant pitches to reporters. Swisher’s point for the night was social media hasn’t changed what makes a good story and you can’t PR a bad a product.
Of course this raised questions about targeted pitches, measurement, and relationship building. But I got the sense this is the same conversation the PR industry has been having since social media first emerged. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. If nothing else, it’s evidence of the industry’s commitment to social media and, ultimately, to its future.
But based on some questions from the audience – in addition to conversations I had with folks at the reception – it is clear the PR industry still grapples with a reputation problem. There is no clear solution for this, but panels like this one are probably a good place to start.