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Why the future of PR looks like the movie Blade Runner

By Andy Getsey

There’s always a lot of discussion about how traditional media will be replaced by digital and social media, how journalist produced content will be replaced by branded and citizen produced content, how PR people will be replaced by some other thing.  Much of the discussion makes it sound like a switch will be flipped, and suddenly the whole landscape and everyone in it will be these brand new alternative things.

The evolution of science fiction tells us that this idea is wrong.

The future of PR and advertising is and will actually be more like the future portrayed in the movie BladeRunner.  I said so as a panelist last week at PRSA Silicon Valley’s meeting on #thefutureofPR. Thanks to all the folks who re-tweeted my comment. 

Here’s why it’s true.  This is a bit of a generalization and I chose BladeRunner as a super mainstream film example.  Others saw something similar – but didn’t mainstream it so hard.  The idea still works. 

Before BladeRunner, most sci–fi movies (like Dune or Logan’s Run as popular examples) portrayed the future as all tall crystalline towers, airlocks and Jetson–style flying cars, telepathy, ray guns and all sorts of other fantastical things. More often than not, inexplicably, people in the future wore togas back then.  WTF? 

Beginning sometime before the release of BladeRunner, the future started being portrayed as a mashup.  Some buildings are state of the art, modern fortresses of ultracool design. Next door might be old buildings from year 2000; run down. Some communications are completely corporately sponsored, others are renegade. Some media are super modern, but there are also billboards and blimps.  Some people are super modern, with bio enhancements, cool weapons and outlandishly modern hair and fashions.  Some are regular people with regular weapons. Others are poor, beaten down, old–fashioned people wearing a variety of raggedy clothes that could be from any era where poor people wore raggedy clothes, and really crappy weapons. 

The future of PR is turning out to be more like BladeRunner than Logan’s Run.  It’s also turning out to be a lot like the adoption curve of radio, TV, email, social networks, etc.  They’re all still here – none have totally replaced the other yet.  Each still has their place. But some are ascending in importance; others are receding.

Some agencies and clients have great tech; some don’t. Some clients care, others don’t care as much - yet. 

It’s just like that with people.  Some are super quants.  Some are social media mavens.  Some are trans-media story tellers.  Some are awesome with bloggers. Some are super good at getting on TV and into the New York Times.   Some are good with everything.  There’s no complete switchover yet.  It’s a mix.  And most kinds of people still have their place. 

But ultimately, in movies and in life - awesome humans with amazing multi-situational skills and advanced weapons are the ones who usually make it into the sequels.

Agree? Disagree?  Message me @andygetsey, or email me: andy(at)atomicpr(dot)com.

Also, if you’re interested in being in the sequel – we’re hiring :-)


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