Junko Yoshida expresses frustration with gaining access to newly appointed CEOs of large technology companies ("Here come the imperial CEOs," Opinion, March 7, page 4). She observes wisely that these corporate leaders may have taken a strategic cue from the current U.S. president's selective direct contact with journalists. Is corporate America imitating the "MBA President?" While it's a very reasonable theory, a quick scan of PR trade publications may offer up another story: Public relations is changing.
Five years ago, if you asked technology CEOs what much of their PR activity entailed, there's a good chance they'd answer "communicating with journalists." Giving interviews, reviewing press releases and making the rounds of publications are only a portion of the PR activities a CEO must consider today. PR has grown into what its full name suggests: relating to various publics through many media. Print journalism is one medium, although fewer print venues exist in the technology space these days. That unfortunate fact, along with evolving marketing practices, has caused company leaders to get the word out in additional ways, especially through the Internet.
Today, CEOs might have to consider writing a daily entry in their corporate blog. They often must approve more-complicated projects, such as direct e-mail campaigns and Web-based seminars. Every once in a while a CEO must address a misconception spread through an online message board. If they're like our consumer-focused brethren, they may even consider more cutting-edge practices such as connecting with the public through instant messaging, videogame product placement or mobile-phone texting.
Then there's "buzz" marketing, which relies on peer influence-arguably the most reliable way to reach customers overloaded with information.
Even if CEOs had no responsibilities other than PR, their plates would be full. Traditional media will always be a credible way to tell a company's story, but both PR professionals and journalists must learn to navigate the new media.
We look forward to learning together-in addition to trying to line up interviews with CEOs.