Public Relations in the days of the dinosaur

After booting up my computer to start writing this blog, I realized that my internet was, sadly, not working.  After an initial moment or two of panic, I realized that, as crazy as it seems, I could possibly type a blog post now without being on the internet and just upload it later.  I debated the idea in my head for a while.  Can I really do this?  What if I need to look something up on Wikipedia?  How was I going to come up with a post idea with doing a Google search first?

At a certain point it occurred to me how ridiculous my predicament was.  I am not a complete idiot.  I can write a blog post without using the internet.  (Pull yourself together, Kelly!)  I put my non-internet powered thinking cap on and decided to write about the most obvious thing that came to my mind.  What the hell did public relations people do before the internet?

I mean, really, everything I do at Ruder Finn involves the internet.  I cannot think of one single activity I have done in the past month that didn’t involve the internet.  I could think of about two things that didn’t have to involve the internet, and they were more administrative things than actual public relations related activities (does looking up the price of business cards for my boss count as a public relations activity?).  The reality is, I am constantly on the internet at work, whether it’s creating a media list or searching for hits.

Without the internet, public relations practitioners had to have been a lot more specialized.  Right now, the clients I work on include a start-up payments company, an ingredients manufacturer and an engineering association.   Quite frankly, I have very little knowledge of any of these industries.  If I didn’t have Google and Wikipedia, I would not be able to do my job.  In the pre-internet era, public relations practitioners couldn’t just tell the intern to throw together a spreadsheet of food ingredient awards.  Practitioners would either have to just know what awards existed or figure it out some other way.  Hopefully, there was some sort of database for this (if not I have no idea how that would have worked).  But even a database wouldn’t have been searchable and someone (by someone I mean the intern) would have had to actually read through a list of awards to find ones that were applicable.

The same thing would have had to happen to create a media list.  Considering how quickly media lists go out of date, this would have been an incredible task.  Perhaps back when journalism was a more stable industry and writer loyalties were less fickle.  Even if that was the case, the turn-around time for updates to a media database could not have been nearly what it is today (not that Cision is too quick on the draw, anyway).

Before the internet, public relations must have been a completely different animal than the one it is today.  It’s not really a matter of tiger cub growing into an adult tiger.  It’s more like a tiger mating with a lion and creating a liger.  Completely different animal.

The liger -- part lion, part tiger, all awesome.


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