Designer PR

“I will have a cup of coffee,” I say waving the menu away.  “Just coffee, please.”
The waitress pauses.  She looks at me expectantly, with a though of irritation that says “I am busy, please don’t waste my time, just order, half-wit.”  She nods, as if prodding further information.
I repeat, “I will have a cup of coffee.  Thank you.”  I add for good measure, after all I have already said please.
She launches into a monologue that I have some difficulty in understanding, “Latte?  Gingerbread Latté? Mocha?  Peppermint Mocha Trio? JavaKula? Brewed Coffee? Filter?  Expresso? Hand Shaken ColdBrewed Originals? Café Alternatives? FruitKula Blended Beverages? Cappuccino? Milk or cream, nonfat milk, organic milk or soya milk?  Sugar, Brown, White, Carmel or Sweeteners, or Syrup – there are 11 including including Valencia, Classic and Sugar-Free Vanilla?  Short, Medium, Tall?”   She pauses for breathe.  “Just take a look at the menu and let me know. “
Whew, I think, blowing out like a whale.  Who would have thought that ordering coffee could be so difficult?  This is not a Monty Python movie – or is it?  I am not that old school, am I?  One would think this was a movie scene – with Sandra Bullock ordering 27 coffees en route to the cop meeting of Ms Congeniality.  This isn’t even Starbucks.  For heaven’s sake, it is Seattle coffee shop attached to the local Exclusive Book Store.   Maybe I should have asked for tea, I conclude as I reach for the menu.
Designer coffee is so passé today.  Who hasn’t order mocha latte tall or whatever.   Sure it is all so last year, but what if we apply the same rules to PR.  Tailor-made designer PR – wow.  Designer PR however is new.  This new level of PR puts PR on the same status as marketing, branding and advertising, if not higher.  PR is at heart all about conversation and finally there, in that conversation, is the opportunity for PR to own the customer.  Everybody knows that only 14% of people still believe in advertising, that marketing is all about sales and that branding is about perceptions – it is about what the customer says it is, not what the company says.  Major shift alert – are you ready.
Imagine a world where PR is no longer second cousins to marketing, branding and advertising, PR – after drooling for so long – can now rule.  Are you ready?  Do you know what is out there – not only on the menu of Starbuck or Seattle coffee shops, but in the PR toolkit of conversation – listening, hearing, replying or initiating.  Only four ingredients make coffee after all – coffee beans, water and with or without sweetener or milk.
This is a world of one to one marketing (conversations), niche marketing, long tail marketing or personalized marketing based on ‘people like me’, social media, social networks, virtual lifestyles and sharing your every thought, moment, fart and event on face book, twitter, bebop, blue world, my space, ning networks and so on and so forth.  Yes it is a lot to take in.  But it is today.
The rather untraditional move, unexpected move, but then ‘not even the wise know all the outcomes’ of moving a business discipline – public relations – from the faculty of business, to the faculty of information and design has opened many more opportunities than it has closed.  Business is so old school, so tradition, so bound up in rules and regulations, so hamstrung by ‘this is the way it has always been done’, that it is unable to acknowledge that the world has changed.  Information is not scared, but abundant, it is all there at the click of a button.  What hasn’t changed is the ability to use it, to shift it to sort it, to spot trends, to back yourself (Richard Branson would agree) and just go for it anyway.  Designer business is a long way off.  Designer PR is here.
I am quite pleased to be in a faculty that prizes flexibility, originality, innovation and new ways of doing things, new ways of looking at things, new ways of making my voice heard or new ways of listening to what needs to be done.  I am especially pleased that if PR listens, learns and grabs the opportunities offered, PR can finally rule the roost.  After all it is all about winning, isn’t it.