Because PR is mostly about making the news, public relations firms all over the world are rethinking the old models of their practice. The lines between advertising, experiential events, and media activations have disappeared. The reasoning these days is that you could conscript any of these other areas of mass communications to gain profitable media attention, a lot of which may also be free and worth millions of dollars.
If you want to make the front pages of the newspapers or catch a prime spot on the 10 o’clock news, you have to make yourself the news.
Even if you have to pay some news media to trigger the conversation, it will not amount to gratuitous coverage; you will actually be presenting them with something newsworthy, something interesting to their audience, something shareable on social media.
Case in point: Bergün/Bravuogn near St Moritz, a village in Switzerland, whose bizarre reverse-psychology law to ban tourists from taking pictures of its “too beautiful” sights attracted massive unpaid press coverage and delivered intended results: make the world aware that the village existed, generate buzz, and pull in the tourists in droves.
This is why international award-winning PR agencies are no longer simply calling press briefings, or press conferences and handing out press releases punctuated with canned quotes. They’re creating events, stunts, and products that will cause the media to want to talk about their clients.
Naturally, the other less-showy parts of PR will remain: crisis management, community management, stakeholder engagement, etcetera. But for those moments when what a company needs is to make a major media splash as it tries to establish a reputation, new in-depth, community-building stories are being told in entertaining and unforgettable ways.