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Lessons from Terminator: PR is in permanent transition

30th October 2015

One week PR is “Dead”, the next it’s “Mid-Transition”. The true picture is that PR is permanently in flux and therefore needs constant redefinition. Agility is at the core and will decide the winners and losers in this fast-growing industry. It’s time to be a Terminator.

Do you remember the classic phone booth/kitchen scene from Terminator 2, when Arnold Schwarzenegger’s enemy absorbs the shape, appearance and voice of John Connor’s foster mother? This all-encompassing chameleonism was referred to as ‘Nanomorphing’; the ability to scan the molecular structure of whatever the machine was touching and visually and sonically mimic it.

The PR industry is like that. More than ever before we need to be many different things, and the ability to nanomorph into whatever we need to be is a must. The opportunity is huge – content, search, influencer relations, paid media - so why do PR insiders declare the industry “dead”?

PR is not dead

I’m kind of over the whole “[Topic X] is dead” headline. It does its job, which is to get attention, but is often a hackneyed overstatement just to draw attention to something. By the end of the debate we invariably find out that Topic X is not dead at all.

This happened recently with PR. First it’s pronounced dead, and then it’s diagnosed as “mid-transformation”. It’s neither; PR is in permanent transition, and we had better get used to it. That means being agile enough to understand where audiences are and mastering the new tools and channels we need to inform and persuade, and defend reputation.

The recent shift towards digitally-led media has been hard for some PR agencies, but those who have diversified and adapted, and can continue to be relevant and deliver on business objectives, will earn their Darwinist right to exist.

Reasons to be cheerful

As former Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) chairman Stephen Waddington pointed out in this post, there are reasons to be optimistic. In the UK alone, the PR industry is estimated to be worth nearly £10bn per annum and employs 62,000.

PR will never die. While there are products and services to sell, reputations to defend, impressions to make, PR will always exist as long as humanity occupies this comparatively small rock hurtling through space.

The future belongs to the nanomorphs.

If your organisation would like to learn how Grayling could help you with your digital transformation, please contact us.


Grayling Team

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