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February 15, 2008


Tawnya Lancaster (The Lancaster Group)


I received your email "The End Is Near," forwarded to me by Brenna Bolger of PRx. I then clicked through to read this blog post. I have to say that I totally disagree with you on this one. Traditional PR is definitely not dead.

As technology lowers the barrier of entry to businesses and individuals, more people will be trying to publicize their wares online. That means more noise in the market. More noise in the market means that it's becoming even more difficult to capture the consumer's attention. Those who are able to get access to the mainstream media channels that continue to reach millions have a chance to rise above that noise and set themselves apart. How do you do that? PR. Getting exposed through these channels will help drive a social media campaign. I've written more about this on my blog PlugIN (http://www.lancaster-group.com/blog/?p=16).

I do have to give you kudos for picking a controversial subject that would spread among marketers.

Tawnya Lancaster
The Lancaster Group

Steven Phenix


Thanks so much for your comment. I think we'll just have to agree to disagree. The beauty of social media is that it does cut through all the noise. All it takes is some good SEO skills and your clients will be on the front page of Google.

Studies have shown that 90% of searchers click on the at least one of the first three links on Google. And only 10% go beyond the first three pages. With a little SEO, you can actively communicate client messaging when buyers are actively searching for information about your clients' products.

PR is great for buzz and name recognition. But come a recession, CEO's are going to start questioning the value of PR.

But before signing more of those fat retainer checks, I would advise some caution on the part of every CEO. Before the PR agencies start dazzling you with visions of your dotted picture on the cover of the Wall Street Journal, you should ask your agency some important questions like “How does buzz, mindshare, name awareness, etc., sell more product?” “Can you measure the effect a media hit has on sales?” “What does PR do for my bottom-line?

In other words, or rather in Rickie Ricardo’s words, PR industry, “you got some ’splain’n’ to do.”

With social media on the other hand , we have undeniable metrics in place that demonstrate increased sales. And come a downturn, that's all that matters to the CEO's and their board members.

Speaking of metrics, I couldn't help but notice the really low ranking your blog has. This here blog ranks 331,000th most influential blogs out of 112 million blogs as tracked by Technorati.

Yours doesn't rank at all. So seeing as how you're basically talking to yourself instead of plugging in to the conversation, I can see how you might doubt the power of social media.

I'd love to give you a little free consulting, should you want your blog to have more impact.

Thanks again for commenting.


Tawnya Lancaster (The Lancaster Group)


Thanks, too for your comments. I appreciate your candor. Considering that we've only recently launched PluggedIN, and haven't had the benefit of two years of SEO as you've had with Phenix Rising (launched in 2005), I've no doubt that your ranking is higher that ours. But I also have to point out that many of your blog postings have zero comments, so you may be getting a high ranking, but does that necessarily mean people are interacting/reading yours as well?

Nonetheless, perhaps you misunderstood my post in that I'm not disagreeing with you on the importance of social media. I do firmly disagree with you though in your assumption that social media alone is enough.

As for big retainer checks, I'm not sure what you qualify as "big," but when one considers that the average monthly PR retainer for small to medium sized client is less than one full page ad in a daily newspaper, then most see the value. And, when you can bring your client a significant number of press mentions (50+ per year) then that value is increased. (Not to mention what it can do for your social media campaign.)

As you well know, many in this industry are still "figuring" this thing out. What social media looks like today, will certainly not be what it looks like tomorrow. And those of us who are making emphatic predictions now, only remind me of those who made those same emphatic predictions about the impact of email campaigns back in 2000, saying that they were going to wipe out all other forms of marketing. I don't know about you, but I'm still getting a whole lot of direct mail in my mailbox. Thanks.

Steven Phenix


Our blogs launch on day one with a ranking of 3-5 million. Then they quickly become reach the 1 millionth mark and good things start to happen on Google. When you rank below 100K on Technorati, you can't be beat.

Because we rank so high, the traffic and the buyers come flooding in. Type in this phrase in to Google -- PR recession -- and you'll see what I mean. When people find us through all the noise, they don't comment much, you're right. They don't really want their struggle with the bottom line to be a public thing. Instead, they just call and we start in to working together.

I'd still like to give you some easy pointers that can give your blog a lift on search engine rankings.

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