Why Public Relations needs to become an integrated part of social customer relationship management

As techcrunch reports, PR Newswire – the press release distribution site – is launching an integrated agility dashboard that unites several of its services in a single place. As PR Newswire puts it, the dashboard help its users to move beyond simply sending out press releases to pre-defined media lists.

The agility dashboard gives users access to:

  • 700'000 journalist contacts
    • Classic contact details
    • Social media profiles
    • Klout score
    • Latest tweets

  • tools to track mentions of brands and their competitors in both traditional and social media
  • A communication suite that let’s users reply to these mentions from within the dashboard – and yes, part of that is also to send press releases

As Nicole Guillot, PR Newswire’s senior vice president of global product management puts it:

We’ve moved beyond the “news release world,” so Guillot adds, and Agility is designed to reflect those changes. It’s not just about shooting a release to a small group of journalists, but finding anyone who’s influential on a given subject matter and engaging them, whether it’s with a press release or a tweet. If it sounds like PR is starting to blur into things like customer service and marketing, well, that’s the idea.

This last sentence holds some serious long term implications for PR.

Yes, I fully agree: public relations today is about engaging anyone who is influental about your brand or product. And no, I don’t think that PR Newswire’s Agility Dashboard is the right answer to this new communications reality.

The big question is: Why should you still treat journalists different than anyone else, who is influental about your brand, your industry or your topic?

Right, there is no reason to keep on doing so.

  • Anyone can be infuental, and often a brand’s biggest influencers are not journalists.
  • Journalists and bloggers are customers too: You serve them with information, insights and engaging perspectives on products and industries they are interested in.

That said, I think brands and agencies should stop investing budgets in new and cool sounding distribution systems and rather start thinking about how to integrate better into a holistic, social customer relationship management.

I’m not talking about tools. I’m talking about changing the overall purpose and organisation of PR. PR should not be a separate communications discipline that is handled by a separate teams or agencies, who are using separate tools to adress separate influencers. PR should become an integral part of a brand’s CRM. Just as different media formats are integrating – communication functions should be doing so too.