If there’s one lesson I learned during my trip to NewOrleans last week, it was this: do not wear pants to Louisiana in June. Saying itwas hot would be an understatement.

But if there’s another lesson to be learned from my time inthe Big Easy, it’s that we are standing on the precipice of the future ofpublic relations; a fundamental shift in how we will spend our budgets andmanpower. Soon, our profession will rely more on the creation of our owncontent for consumption than it will pitching an interview to a reporter,crossing our fingers, and praying for the best result. (We see an example ofthis on Microsoft’s Worldwide PartnerConference video page.)

It was for this reason alone that I hopped on a plane tospend some time with Microsoft’s newest IT Investigation unit: Point& Click.

Recently, we’ve been able to leverage a fantasticrelationship with the New Orleans Hornetsof the National Basketball Association due to their creative work in the ITspace with Microsoft’s customer relationship management software, Dynamics CRM. Since theguys were already in New Orleans for TechEd, wefigured we would be remiss if we didn’t at least ask the Hornets if we couldshoot some video with their team to discuss how they’re using the CRMtechnology.  As we’ve come to find out, the team was more than willing toaccommodate our request, even going so far as to give us access to the Hornets’team locker room for the shoot. (Lesson #3: Before you discount an idea, ask.You’d be surprised how willing people are to help.)   

Now, learning that Chris Paul has three lockers to himselfaside, the coolest part of the trip was digging in and gaining a workingunderstanding of how this tactic is going to change the way we work inPR.  As I mentioned above, traditional PR has, for so long, relied onpitching stories to reporters, knowing full well that it’s ultimately not up tous how the story will turn out.  But what if we’re now able to control theentire message, and distribute that message on our branded sites, in exactlythe way we want it to look? It certainly makes us more valuable to ourstakeholders, does it not?

We are never going to stop doing PR in the traditionalsense, of course. But as newsrooms shrink and our budgets get tighter,ultimately, it’s up to us to decide how to get the best bang for our buck. Andwhether it’s through pitching reporters our stories, or creating videocasts andpodcasts that tell the same story, well, that’s up to you. But if it meansspending half a day in an NBA locker room? Well, that’s one initiative I cansupport.

(Disclosure: Microsoft is an Airfoil client.)

— Brad Marley