The Dow is about to be reshuffled since GE gobbled up Honeywell. Candidates are telecommunications and new media companies, making selection a front-line PR issue.
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The practice of PR and investor relations (IR) has changed forever. Over strong objections from the National Investor Relations Institute (NIRI) and the Securities Industry Association (SIA), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) implemented its Full Disclosure Regulation on October 23. And it's high time. The basic idea behind Regulation FD is simple: Level the playing field for investors. No more advance leaking of earnings estimates to analysts or private conference calls to institutional investors and fund managers.
Public relations tends to breed confusion because it operates in both the stratospheric levels of corporate positioning and strategic marketing, and in the trench warfare of publicity and events. All this was thrown into sharp relief by a story that surfaced last week that seemed to have little to do with PR, except for the necessity of putting out some publicity fires afterward. Gene tells the story of Amazon's covert dynamic pricing scheme based on profiles of its 23 million customers.
PR's got a problem. A big one. The explosion of the Internet has irrevocably changed the media landscape, but few PR people seem to realize it. Too many of them continue to deliver products that no longer work to a media world that no longer exists. It's time to rethink strategies and get creative. It's time to learn what works today. Forget three-martini lunches; welcome to the dot-com mosh pit.
It may be treasonous to suggest the old way of doing PR is over. Yet that dark continent of e-zines and online newsletters is certain to change the practice of public relations forever. To find really good publicity programs leveraging this massive medium, you probably have to look beyond the agencies and PR departments to the e-commerce entrepreneurs. PR professionals seeking publicity in online newsletters, discussion lists, and e-zines tread in dangerous and uncharted territory.