By Linda Forrest

Unlike a few of my colleagues here at inmedia, I fell backward into public relations. The first professional internship position that I held just happened to be in publicity and I quite unintentionally ended up staying on this career path. For the duration of my career, I have been working in media relations. And I have thanked my lucky stars day after day that I’m doing this job in the Internet age.

There is plenty of talk about the future of the PR business given the advent of social media. Some would even have you believe that PR people like myself are nearing extinction. This post isn’t meant to inspire people to take sides in a “where do we go from here?” conversation. Instead, for a moment, I would like to contemplate how PR was done in the past. Francis, our managing partner, tells us stories of his reporter days, typing with carbon in between sheets of paper to make copies. The hubris of my ever-receding youth screams aloud in my head, “you had to do WHAT?!?” Meanwhile, it boggles my aging mind that the younger generation can’t grasp the ethical connotations of the financial relationship between copyrighted material and the consumer. Kids today… but I digress.

I spend my work day in front of a computer – developing material, typing and editing, changing words on a whim, spelling things incorrectly (only very occasionally, of course…), absorbing the day’s news, researching material, learning about various subjects, blogging, reading RSS feeds and more. Now, remove the computer and the Internet from these activities. Truthfully, I have trouble even comprehending the mechanics of my job outside of the context of the Internet and computers. How would one do adequate and up-to-date research? Or develop an accurate and appropriate media list? Or not plough through large swaths of the rainforest because of the reams and reams of paper used every day? Or not constantly struggle with spelling and typographical errors?

Let’s say that one did, miraculously, develop and manage to type an error-free news release that took into consideration the information already published in the media marketplace, then how was it distributed? Sometimes our media lists have hundreds of contacts on them. Did my predecessors spend two days by the fax machine? What about in the time before fax? It is too much for me to comprehend.

I’m so glad that Al Gore invented the Internet. I would be lost without it.

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