Flipping through last month’s issue of GQ, I came across an interesting piece on legendary PR man Alan Edwards. One of the industry’s leading figures in entertainment for over 40 years, he has represented everyone from The Rolling Stones and The Sex Pistols to David Beckham and Naomi Campbell.
The article, entitled ‘Public image unlimited’, is a promotional piece for the Always Print The Myth: PR and The Modern Age event that took place earlier this month at the V&A. Centred around Edwards and looking back over pop culture across the last few decades, the event discussed PR as an art form. One that, as Geoffrey Marsh’s preview of the event in The Independent points out, ‘is evolving very fast’. I couldn’t agree more.
But not exactly in the same way that Alan Edwards predicts. Reflecting on how the internet and social media have changed the media landscape, he proclaims in the GQ article that ‘the era of big beasts has gone’, suggesting that the future of editors and PRs is under threat from the malaise of publishers and commentators waxing lyrical across social platforms. I think he is half-correct.
Yes, the way we communicate with brands is changing, but we will always need talented communicators. Why? Because there will always be a demand for a quality story. Sure, anyone can voice an opinion and interact with brands online, and that provides companies with a great opportunity to listen and respond to their customers. But, personally, I don’t want to spend my days merely eavesdropping on customer compliant enquiries.
No, I want an engaging narrative. As Marsh reflects, ‘the one thing that hasn’t changed is that PRs respond to a basic human need for stories’. This is where the true art lies: in creating and weaving compelling, authentic narratives across the new multimedia landscape in way that ensures that they’re heard by the right people in the right way.
These stories should meet a target audience’s need to be entertained, informed, and of course, inspired to pursue a relationship with a brand. Otherwise, what’s the point?
Still, to have toured with Jagger and co…