The PR Friendly Index is no longer about PR. Is PR even about PR any more?

badlogoI’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the PR Friendly Index recently. Given that I’m not working in social media exclusively any more, it’s a pain in the arse to maintain and other indexes do this better (and keep getting better too), I’ve been thinking of scrapping it.

However, before doing so, I thought I’d have a look at the blogs listed and see what they’re up to.

And get this: hardly anyone writes about PR any more.

I know, there are all sorts of definitions of what PR ‘is’. My friend Kerry Gaffney has summed it up well in the past: you don’t talk about ‘newspaper PR’ or ‘radio PR’, so instead of talking about ‘online PR’, you could argue that social media is just part of, well, PR. This is a fair argument, especially when PR backs up into marketing. You could argue that anyone talking about communicating a client’s benefit through word of mouth to appropriate audiences is doing PR.

But strangely, when I started my blog, I did it to find out mostly about PR, and a bit about blogging. Sounds perverse, it’s true, but I’d only comparatively recently started working in a PR agency and I thought it would be a good way to accelerate my learning. This is why I put together a blogroll of PR blogs. And the more I got into the blogging, the more I became aware that we needed ways in which to ‘measure’ blogs, so I put together my first index.

Since then I’ve had all sorts of comments, mostly complimentary, but some of them have told me that a lot of the blogs don’t really talk about PR.

And they were right.

I started at the top and worked my way down. This is how it went:

[Slightly out of breath after run]

Oh, of course this blogger talks about PR, let’s skip it, move to the next one.

[Skips down, clicks link]

Hmmmm. There’s no mention of PR on the first two pages that I can see. It’s out.

[Deletes. Skips down, clicks link. Coughs a bit.]

This one mentions PR. It’s in.

[Skips down, clicks link]

Hmmmm. There’s no mention of PR on the first two pages that I can see. It’s out.

[Deletes. Skips down, clicks link]

Hmmmm. There’s no mention of PR on the first two pages that I can see. It’s out.

[Deletes. Skips down, clicks link]

Hmmmm. There’s no mention of PR on the first two pages that I can see. It’s out.

[Deletes. Skips down, clicks link]

Hmmmm. There’s no mention of PR on the first two pages that I can see. It’s out.

[Deletes. Skips down, clicks link. Starts wheezing, goes to look for some pineapple juice.]


This continued most of the way down the list. The further down I got, the more people still occasionally mentioned PR. I suppose this makes sense: you get loads of social media juice by talking about social media. That reminds me, must get more pineapple juice in.

If you talk about fuddy-duddy old PR – you know, outreach, the media, organising events, talking to journalists and all that boring stuff – you wind up further down. That’s why I’ve been anticipating a drop in my readership since a became a fuddy-duddy old copywriter again.

I was so surprised/alarmed by the near-total obsession with social media and lack of PR that I returned to the top and went through the ones I’d skipped. And I had to take a fair few of them out too, because all I could see was Twitter, Facebook, Blogging, and maybe a few pictures of the nice holiday they’d recently had in the Seychelles.

With the result that we now have 367 blogs in the index. That’s about a third of the original set. And no, I don’t include myself in the new list. I’m sure that, about a year or so ago, they were waxing lyrical about PR, not almost exclusively socia media.

Here’s the list, in the order they appear in the last index. They’re blogs that either talk about PR, or just about mention PR enough to make me think they talk about PR. Note I haven’t added links because I don’t believe in link love any more either. If you think it’s interesting enough to share, then please share (POST EDIT – Thanks to Judy Gombita for noticing I hadn’t updated my PR Blogs list – you can see these blogs to the right of this page now):

  • PR Watch
  • The Bad Pitch Blog
  • PR Blogger
  • The Buzz Bin
  • Pop! PR Jots
  • A PR Guy’s Musings
  • Strategic Public Relations
  • Wadds’ tech pr blog
  • Spinwatch
  • sixtysecondview
  • PR Newser
  • Murphy’s Law
  • Heather Yaxley
  • PR Conversations
  • PR Studies
  • Flack Life
  • Piaras Kelly PR
  • ToughSledding
  • Corporate PR
  • Strumpette
  • Post Edit: Getting Ink (happy now Sally?)
  • PR Meets the WWW
  • Sir Robert Bond Papers
  • PR Disasters
  • In Front of Your Nose
  • Simonsays
  • All Things PR
  • PR Voice
  • DummySpit
  • Teaching PR
  • Ron Torossian
  • Paul Stallard
  • Fusion PR Forum
  • First Person PR
  • Flacks Revenge
  • Public Relations Rogue
  • Final Spin

PR people, social media may be part of PR but it’s not all of it. You do other stuff too, right? Or are you all trying to strike the same pose to attract new business? Isn’t PR sexy enough to be talked about any more? Don’t you have any challenges? Have you all sussed it out so much that it’s not worth discussing? Or is PR actually just about social meeja now?

Because if I were on the lookout for a PR agency I’d be hard-pressed to find one that isn’t obsessed by whether or not I have a social media policy, or how to get along with Twitter, or describing how great blogging is.

I’d sum it up thusly:


I don’t know whether this is good or bad. What do you think? Is this a problem of definition? Do you still talk about PR, just not online?

I’d imagine if you’re not on the list any more, you think bad, right?

12 thoughts on “The PR Friendly Index is no longer about PR. Is PR even about PR any more?

  1. As someone tasked with building a web page of online resources for the Canadian Public Relations Society, I feel your pain. I’ve told my colleagues on the national professional development committee that this is a very subjective task: what is targeted (to our members, most who work in PR, but some in marcomm), useful, innovative and interesting.

    What I’m thinking about doing is grouping the blogs, wikis, etc., into different streams:

    – public relations
    – marketing communications
    – government relations/public affiars
    – social media
    – etc.

    I’m also thinking of letting individuals nominate resources–with his or her name beside it. That way the credit (or blame) can go to the person giving the testimonial.

    FYI, the definition I’ve settled on for public relations (for now) is: providing value, reputation and relationship building.

    BTW, found this newest blog post via a link from PR Conversations…so at least one person is still paying attention to your index re: what you deem to be (truly) PR-related!


  2. At the risk of stating the bleedin’ obvious, perhaps it’s telling that the majority of those still in the list include PR or public relations in their titles. (Others give clues by mentioning flacks or spin).

    So now we have PR backing into SEO.

    (I’m in, but really don’t care about lists – I’m happy to read about copywriting and social media, not necessarily PR, on your blog.)

  3. @Judy – I’m glad you commented first because you’re one of the people who told me the PR blogs didn’t talk about PR! But how would your definition separate PR from social media? Are they inseparable?

    @Richard – yes, but there are plenty blogs that had PR in their title which weren’t talking about PR! I suspose I should list them too but by the time I’d been through strking blogs out, I had that list and didn’t have the oomph to recreate a new list of the non-PR blogs. But yes, generally, if you say you talk about PR, you should talk about PR.

  4. At the risk of seeming like a PR curmudgeon, I don’t believe I’m the one who needs to differentiate on what separates PR from social media–PR has been around for decades–it’s social media that’s the new kid on the block having to prove itself, so its advocates can promote how and why it’s different (beyond the obvious use of technology platforms). 😉

    But I did do a guest post about the topic earlier in the year, on the CPRS “On the Edge” conference blog: Hype down, already, about social media (re)inventing PR

  5. OK, hold my hands up, you’re right.

    See, I told you people wouldn’t like it if they weren’t on the list. That’s the general reaction. If they’re on it they love it. 🙂

    But would you say you really blog about PR though? You mostly deal with journalism. Would you describe yourself as a PR blogger? I mean, really? Would you really own up to that, at those wild journalist parties you have?

  6. Ha! It’s true, I’m all about the glory, me.

    Well, for starters, I’m not a PR, so I’m not a PR blogger. But I’d say I definitely blog about PR – what I’m blogging about is PR from the journalist’s perspective, so I’m a PR blogging journalist. Most posts relate to that rather than the journalism process, I reckon.

    Although I’m not blogging about much of anything these days, the whole blogosphere is too fucking depressing, frankly.

    Wild parties? Me? Surely some mistake.

  7. For me, social media has meant that we can look at PR for what it really is once again- public relations. To many people perceive PR = press relations or press release.

    Now we can do what some of us have always done – talk to different communities, INCLUDING, but not exclusively, journalists. And that needs lots of channels, both off and on-line.

    I don’t talk about PR, I get on and do it. You know what they say about people who just talk about it….!

  8. Brendan –

    I realize it’s been long time, no comment, but I’m glad I visited your blog today. You note an interesting topic, which in my view is one of our profession’s biggest hangups – the obsession with labels. Clients want us to offer our communications expertise to improve their enterprises – period. What we label it is irrelevant. Public relations, by the way, is about our building and strengthening relationships with our publics. We have lots of tools at our disposal (news media specific and otherwise), but social media and what it allows us to do is a gift, not a burden. It’s among the most powerful advancements in relationship tools in my lifetime. Let’s forget about labels.

    The Brendan Cooper Friendly Index is fine with me 😉

  9. @Leo and @Grazia – I guess you’re right. They are labels, but social media complements any comms ‘model’ then it’s PR. I just found it interesting that a lot of blogs that call themselves ‘PR’ are almost exclusively talking about social media nowadays. I still think it’s valuable to talk about other PR activities online, and have always thought it odd in a ‘pop will eat itself’ kind of way that people talk online about online. What’s wrong with talking about the real world online?

    What I’d really like to do – when BT deign to reconnect me after my house move – is revisit the ‘What are we talking about’ study to see how the diagram has changed. I bet social media is bang in the middle, looming large, with PR shoved out towards the periphery.

  10. Pingback: The PR Friendly Index is no more « Brendan Cooper – your friendly social media-savvy freelance copywriter and social media consultant

  11. Pingback: PR? Essential? Blogs? From a Ragan tweet to a Cooper post via good old-fashioned email. « Brendan Cooper – your friendly social media-savvy freelance copywriter and social media consultant. Or: words make ideas make money.

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