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Why Traditional PR Doesn’t Work Anymore


When I came to college, I had no idea what public relations was. The more I learned about it, the more I realized that most people didn’t either, or they thought that it was marketing. I have come to understand that this is the first of two main understandings of what public relations is. The second is that PR practitioners are slimy, lying individuals who only do things to get the press off a reputable company or brand’s back. Both of these interpretations have shaped my interpretation of public relations, and a huge piece has been that the “traditional” sense of public relations just doesn’t apply to today’s world.


Before I get into my issues with “traditional pr,”here’s the bottom line of what “traditional” really means. When I say that, I’m talking about crisis communication and being a part of a marketing team to build campaigns. Nowadays, public relations has become so much more than that, and I want to explore some of the issues that the new age has caused which current practitioners are facing.


The first main issue is that with the rise of social media: there are just too many dang platforms! I mean, how is a person supposed to keep up with Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, LinkedIn, WeChat, Pinterest and Reddit? There’s a million more, so how do we choose what to promote our brand on and what do we stay away from? An article from Commsights gets into the details of what public relations really is and the issues with too many platforms. It talks about how even though most platforms are free ways to get your product or brand out there, there needs to be significant thought and planning before jumping into all of them at once.


The other main issue I want to get into today is the 24/7 news cycle we live in. “The Age of Info,” as I’ve heard it called before, can be absolutely detrimental to the lifespan of a pr professional. Public relations has to be fast, and this article Axiapr discusses how the field has shifted from a typical 9-5 to a constant battle between news and consumer. In fact, the sixth point in the article gets into this issue. It talks about how things are happening while we are sleeping, and these pr pros are supposed to be keeping up constantly.


Overall, public relations has never been simple, and I don’t want to disregard that. There is still room for traditional work to be done, but it just looks so different. That’s what I love about public relations so much: it’s constantly updating and changing, and I love that fast-paced energy that it brings. I want to learn new techniques, and I’m excited to explore how we can more effectively get a positive message out to consumers quicker. That’s what has kept me around, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for the field of public relations.


Mason Fridley is a junior from Anderson, Indiana, majoring in public relations and Christian ministries and minoring in history. Mason is an associate with Fifth Street Communications®, a student-run public relations agency at Anderson University.


Anderson University is on a mission to educate students for lives of faith and service, offering more than 60 undergraduate majors, 30 three-year degrees, 20 NCAA Division III intercollegiate sports, alongside adult and graduate programs. The private, liberal arts institution is fully accredited and recognized among top colleges for its business, computer science, cybersecurity, dance, engineering, nursing, and teacher education programs. Anderson University was established in 1917 in Anderson, Indiana, by the Church of God.