27 April 2014 | Liz Bowen

This morning I was reading an article on the latest Hotel Marketing Association PR debate, which sparked a few thoughts…

The panelists debated the future of PR in the digital age and how the PR industry is adapting to a new way of communication working on social media.

The HMA asked several bodies questions surrounding PR and social media, including: ‘do you believe that social media has enhanced PR operations?” 98% agreed while only 2% disagreed.

Social media has changed the way PR agencies communicate, not only with each other or clients but mostly journalists.

Just a few hours ago, I needed to chase up on an article and tweeted the journalist who hadn’t replied for a few weeks. As soon as I sent them a tweet, within minutes the journalist had replied and emailed me back as it had gone into their spam folder. I also found a #journorequest which was perfect for one of our clients, an opportunity we might not have found if it hadn’t been for social media.

Social media not only enhances communication but also creates a personality for companies.

Times travel writer Tom Chesshyre said: “Is PR dead? Definitely not in my opinion.” He gave the audience a series of tips on how to engage more successfully with journalists on Twitter and added: “It is all about scratching everyone’s back, quote journalists in your tweets and don’t forget that Twitter is meant to be fun!”

86% of people stated that they use social media to engage with journalists and further 72% stated that social media has helped them to forge closer relationships with them.

The use of Google+, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram are growing rapidly, making some argue if the days of traditional PR like writing and distributing press releases are gone?

I would happen to disagree. While new ways like social media do work, I think that there still needs to be a mix with the traditional methods. Journalists still need press releases in order to be told news, which is relevant to them in a quick, easy manner. 45% of respondents stated that their use of press releases has not been changed in the last year. Journalists also still need feature articles, interviews, Q&A’s and reviews. Reviews are especially essential in the hospitality world; they can elevate a company’s reputation in one paragraph.

At the end of the day, editorial coverage is ten times more valuable than advertising. As a customer, which one would you be drawn to? The pretty advert which is clearly selling or the review where the editor is stating how amazing the bed and breakfast was?

David Collyer, Director of Marketing UK & Ireland at IHG said: “When we receive a positive review in print or online media we see a significant spike in bookings”.

Overall, 73% of people stated that PR is not dead and I obviously happen to agree! While traditional PR is still alive it’s without doubt that digital PR will begin to take over more and more.

PR is not just a service to have because other businesses have it. PR is there to help elevate your brand and widen your exposure. I guarantee you, if you have the right PR agency, you wouldn’t even be questioning whether it is dead or not – you would see results and see how PR can truly help.