PR, Progress and the Pain in the Process

Twenty years ago, we could not have imagined that we would use our phones to bank, do business, open doors and thwart burglars, yet it is a common reality that we now take for granted. That device that was once solely used for voice-to-voice calls now rarely gets used for that purpose. But prior to smartphones being ubiquitous, there was a transition from old to new. Some fought progress and vowed to stay with tradition. Others made the shift but there was an adjustment period that was sometimes filled with frustration. History is filled with examples of transition from the horse and buggy to landlines to phone books. Progress happens, but it is not always easy.

The global pandemic has accelerated some changes that were already taking place, such as digital services, contact free payment options, and working from home. With or without the trigger event of a disaster, the journey to change has bumps in the road. Progress requires us to move from entrenched routines and habits to a different way of thinking and doing, and that is uncomfortable and sometimes painful. We can no longer rely on muscle memory but have to develop new habits, routines and systems and it can be exhausting. And there are things we may lose that we really liked which cause us to mourn the past.

Stuck in the Middle

I thought about this process of change when I received an email from my gym. In my state gyms have not yet been allowed to reopen. A planned return to business as usual has been delayed, and to be honest I don’t disagree with the strategy.  So when I received an email asking me to support a petition for gyms in the state to reopen I couldn’t bring myself to sign. 

Like everyone else, I long for some of the old routines, and I want people working, but the pandemic has forced us to look at our way of life and question, does it make sense I have long believed that the large gym model needed to change. I was also aware that the changes would be uncomfortable and potentially not as profitable as the status quo. It is a hard reality that many industries now face, including public relations. 

The PR Pivot

The PR industry has been stuck in the tradition of earned media. Yes, many of us offer other services, and some solos no longer offer earned media at all. However, as a whole, media relations is where we hang our hat. It is how we win clients and how we lose them. As we enter H2 of this weird year it’s a good time to evaluate what we offer clients, and more importantly how.  This pandemic has changed us all and that impacts business. Consumer expectations have changed and our clients have to make a shift to serve evolving market demands. We should be shifting to support their needs.

Now is the time to ask the hard questions about relevance, and nothing should be left out of our analysis – billing, scope of work, process – it’s time to evaluate it all. Are we adding value or simply performing tasks. The good news for Solo PR Pros is that we have always been slightly ahead of the curve, and adapting is easier. Comfortable feels good, but now more than ever, we must be willing to shake things up so that we are not left behind. Yes, there may be a few bumps and bruises along the way, but one day we may look back at 2020 and see it as the greatest thing that ever happened to our business.