‘Surfing internet is just the job for council staff’ shouts the headline from last week’s South Wales Echo. I thought it was going to be a piece about how the Council is embracing social media. Alas, it was not to be. The article is an expose of the websites council workers visit most, which was acquired via a Freedom of Information request. Many obvious sites were listed but it was Friends Reunited Dating that particularly aroused the demonising loins of the journo. I’m not surprised, have these council workers not heard of mysinglefriend or plentyoffish? (by the way, I hear the ‘dates’ are a bit ropey on the latter because it’s free). That actual real life people still use Friends Reunited? Crazy talk.
So, okay, the Taxpayers Alliance is narked. The lazy-good-for-nothing council workers are idling their time away, and we’re paying for it. The little sods are checking out the reviews on Trip Advisor for an all-inclusive in Turkey, posting a status about how bored they are at work on Facebook and the worst of all, searching for something on Google. Can you believe it? What a cheek!
The stats in the article tell me how many times certain sites have been ‘hit’ but not who was on them and for how long. Given that approximately 7000 people from Cardiff Council alone have access to the internet, I’m failing here, really, to see what the problem is? So Google had 1,801,550 page views in three months. That’s nothing. I’ll probably do that in a day. Google is more than a search engine, it’s my actual brain.
I surf the internet a lot because, let’s face it, as a PR person you can’t not. Most of time it’s work related (reading the Daily Mail counts as ‘work’ in PR by the way) but sometimes I’ll be on Twitter or Facebook (it’s very important I tell people about my dinner) or, my latest obsession, buying cardboard stag heads from notonthehighstreet.com. But I still get my job done. Because I’m a grown up and can manage my time. GET ME! If I am too busy or have a lot of meetings to go to or have pressing deadlines, I just don’t go on it as much. As the PR from Cardiff Council says, abuse of the sites is monitored. I’m pretty sure they know if Bob from Planning is playing poker all day. And if he is, then he’s either not getting the job done (which I hope would be addressed by his manager) or, there isn’t really a job that needs doing.
So, in a much long-winded way (not sure I’ve mastered this blogging lark yet) and despite the silliness of the article, it did make me conclude that I’m lucky to work in PR Especially now I’m a freelance PR. It would be ludicrous for me not to go on the internet at work. It is as important and integral to the PR as the press release once was (ok, probably still is). And because of the unfettered access I have enjoyed, I am better informed, better networked and generally more engaged with the world. The internet, I say, is good for people.
In fact, clever PR people like @DannyWhatmough are even suggesting we PR folk MAKE the internet. MAKE THE INTERNET! I can’t even make a pavlova (nor spell it according to red wriggly line I can see) how on earth am I meant to make the internet? But, whatevs, I’ll give it a go. I’m down with the kids and all that. Or will I? I have LOADS to do and I don’t really understand coding and making templates and I’m not sure if I have the time to learn. I want to but it’s overwhelming. Widgets, infographics, microsites? Man, I wish I knew how to make all of those too. The clients I could score if I had that string to my bow. For now, I know plenty of people who can do things like that for me (using my genius ideas of course) but where does it stop? Designers, bloggers, SEO’ers; what is to become of us PR people? How much more can we do? Surely our PR brains will implode and we’ll end up being a jack of all trades and master of none?
But, in essence and because of changing face of PR, I agree with Danny. Future PRs will be streets ahead if they’re whiz-kid-widget-wonders-website-maker-public-relations-gurus as well.