There was a time when companies needed a huge budget to place an ad in a local paper with wide circulation. This was the only way to reach a fairly large market, and quickly, and it wasn’t accessible for small businesses.
Then came radio, which was also pay-to-play. But something weird happened in 1930. A radio show called Painted Dreams aired, with the goal of targeting female listeners. It was the world’s first soap opera, because it was often sponsored by soap manufacturers targeting female listeners.
Then came television, with new ways of reaching audiences. Sponsored content like infomercials, traditional commercials, and product placements.
Public Relations (PR) professionalized as a way to get media attention and distribution without paying for advertising. Of course this included TV, radio, and newspapers, too. But PR was predicated on media consultants’ relationships with media gatekeepers, and the consultants’ ability to pitch an interesting story that aligned with the editorial calendar.
Then came the Internet. Access to the public was no longer owned, so the media and its intermediaries (PR firms) didn’t hold the sway they once did. The Internet has an equivalent to every form of media: podcasts for radio, news sites, and take-your-pick of video streaming services. There are many fewer gatekeepers on the Internet.
PR 2.0 is now upon us. Like the Painted Dreams of old, the new PR is about identifying audiences and providing what they want. There’s no need to pay for placements, because the owners of audiences desperately need good content, and we can provide it.
What story will you tell, and whom will it help?
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