CEO Notes: Where we’ve been, where we’re going

By Heather Kelly
Heather is a 20+ year PR pro. With a passion for masterful storytelling, customized campaigns and efficiently maximizing resources, she has led smart, effective strategies and campaigns for hundreds of companies in every industry, on any budget.
 

As I near 20 years in PR, I find myself reflecting on all that has evolved in our industry.  When I started in my career, we were sending pitches on letterhead via fax, or sometimes even snail mail. We had time. We were dealing with the monthly news cycles of magazines. Print was king. Online-only publications didn’t exist, and any digital coverage was considered second-tier due to lower readership.

For print images, I would take photos, mailed to me by the client, to a photo lab to have slides made. I would tape those slides into a folder along with a pitch before dropping it in the mail. Our industry was run by phone, fax and mail. When email first arrived, it was used mostly for internal communication. Email was a shift in the PR landscape.

For those of you new to PR, who have perhaps never seen a fax machine, I would liken it to the way the industry is grappling with the role of social media, specifically Twitter, today.  It’s a communication tool with powerful advantages and has already begun to revolutionize the way we conduct our business. Those cover letters I mailed out to media outlets less than two decades ago have been reduced to 140 characters and that interaction, that vital outreach, takes place in real time.

Public relations is ever-evolving. Just like print media, PR has fought off the constant threat of extinction. Instead of folding to change, we have proven our resilience and have evolved in step with the media, now multimedia. Our news cycle has been condensed dramatically from once-per-month to hourly as the media strives for continued relevance. Content has even more value today. Thought leadership is the new deliverable—something intangible that can be evaluated through myriad analytical tools.

Our culture is changing rapidly and it’s our job as PR professionals to anticipate how the evolution of communication will impact our industry. SSPR has undergone many changes since it was founded in 1978. We started as a local Chicago franchise PR firm, but were always looking ahead at the direction the industry was taking. In my role, I am constantly pushing myself and my staff to ask, “What new ways can we do this? How can we react faster and offer our clients the best possible service?’

This month, we are excited to roll out our new website and increase our offerings as an agency to meet the ever changing needs of our clients and continue to exceed their expectations. We are, and have always been, great at PR. Our success comes from our unchanging mission to help our clients communicate their value proposition to key constituents. Whether the goal is accomplished via fax or tweet, it’s what we’ve always been about.

We look forward to inevitable and exciting ongoing evolution of SSPR and the communications industry.

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