Can Twitter replace Trade PR?

I was recently asked by a well-known firm if they thought Twitter could replace their trade PR strategy. I asked, ‘what is your trade PR strategy?’ They explained to me that they pay a retainer to a PR firm to send releases out to the trade press.

As Crocodile Dundee might have said: ‘call that a strategy?’
I suggested that the world has moved on from a PR agency just sending out press releases about the latest new widget – even to the trades. Here are a few of the things that seemed to surprise this particular company:

  • The trade journalists are almost all active online, especially using discussion tools like Twitter, where trade gossip can bounce around and be shared
  • The trade journalists often talk about what they are writing on in advance of actually writing it… Many will use the Twitter community to ask for quotes or comments on a story
  • You can easily monitor a list of trusted journalists, analysts, and other contacts and comment on what they are doing, or you can monitor the discussion on different topics where you have a particular interest
This all comes back to the blog I wrote here recently about some executives trying Twitter and then discarding it because they could not find any use in just updating the world on their meeting schedule.
If your focus is on a list of topics, and the writers at a group of specific titles, then what could possibly work better than having a window on what they are saying about their stories?
This works both ways – how many trade hacks really pay attention to the sea of press releases anymore when they can talk directly to the people they are writing about?
Some PR agencies have realised this. There are many now with strong digital and social expertise, but there are so many that are just riding on an existing contract. They will ultimately die out through natural selection.

Computer Weekly on Brazil