Swimming the channels

One thing that always amazes me about PR – whether it’s about awards, case studies or whatever, is how obsessed the industry is with the use of channels – for the uninitiated, that is the means of getting messages across.

So it was a delight to read, in a PR Week supplement on integrated communications (basically integration is making sure you say the same thing across all channels) words from Gordon Tempest-Hay of Blue Rubicon who said: “In reality, the entire marcomms (short for marketing communications) industry, notably PR, is channel-driven, not audience or client-led.”

Three cheers for you from Gecko1000, Mr Tempest-Hay. Exactly. PR is, or should be, about the people you are communicating to. The channels are the means of getting the message to them.

This reminded me of an online discussion I took part in a few months ago when a PR agency was agonising over whether to tag itself as a social media shop, as that is where the client pound is increasingly being spent.

I pointed out that communications is about the audience, not the means of delivery. Yes, by all means present yourself to the market in a way that will make you money, but don’t lose sight of the fact that channels are a means to an end (communicating with someone) and not an end in itself – otherwise PR becomes a technical exercise and loses all its artistry.

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