If we’re to believe that what’s being written about the future of PR is true, then we should all start working on our resumes.

As Steve Rubel wrote in a recent post (and then seemingly confirmed on TechCrunch and denied by Brian Solis, public relations, the industry we know and love, is dead.  Stick a fork in us.  We’re of no use anymore. 

Apparently, in this age of self-discovery, influential tech reporters and bloggers find more excitement in breaking a story on their own than they do by using a cookie cutter pitch that has been mass-emailed by an uninformed PR professional.  Ironic said influential bloggers would even receive that e-mail since, as Michael Arrington writes, “Most PR folks don’t read blogs and certainly don’t understand them.”

With apologies to Arrington, I’m not quite ready to hang up my RSS reader or my AP Stylebook.

Call me naïve, but I’d be willing to bet that reporters have always enjoyed the thrill of finding a great story on their own.  It’s probably why they went into the profession in the first place.  It’s kind of like discovering a great band on your own before the masses do.  It gives you a sense of self-worth.  But just because you listened to that band before they sold out doesn’t mean you should stop listening to your friends’ music recommendations.

And in the case of PR, it shouldn’t mean that we, as professionals, are no longer needed to help reporters, in old or new media, do their job.

With the advent of sites like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, we can be an even greater resource to the media because we now have the opportunity to become familiar with them on a level of intimacy that was unheard of even five years ago .  I mean, where else are you able to provide instant feedback to a reporter’s query about the best burrito in town?

Like all professions, there will always be segments that just don’t get it.  (Football fans in Detroit, for instance, have known this for the last seven years.)  But the group that is willing to better themselves and learn about the tools out there has a huge opportunity to not only become better at their jobs but learn what their reporters want and deliver.

It should be apparent by now that social networking isn’t going anywhere.  And it’s closing the gap between media and PR professionals.  While there will always be reporters who pretend to shun us, there are many more who welcome our input.  If we can utilize new and innovative ways to start a conversation and add value to their work, than we’re doing our job. 

I wouldn’t write our epitaph just yet.

— Brad Marley

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