Who doesn’t like to reminisce about the 90s? The meme and pop culture listicle creators of the world are doing a great job of pointing out the inefficiencies and absurdities we accepted as fact and trends back in the day: payphones, Friday night sitcoms and overly emotive boy bands to name a few.

Surprisingly, many B2B marketers for software companies are going into market segments where their biggest competition is basically 90s tech! It’s amazing the critical business processes that still take place in Excel or clunky on-premise software given the radically more advanced technology that’s available.

PR isn’t that different. A paradigm of PR that is 90s-ish has been forwarded and propagated too – and it doesn’t work for marketers in 2020. 1990s PR processes lack efficiency, drive up costs, slow down results and ultimately decrease ROI. Yet, the ultimate benefit of PR remains relevant – and even more so in 2020.

So, what are the differences between PR in 1990 and 2020? Let’s get listicle ~

1990s Press Release: A press release will instantly be picked up by the media and is a statement to reporters reading wire feeds to find great stories.

2020 Press Release: Press releases are another form of a media pitch unless a company is public or the news is transactional. For innovators releasing product advancements, press releases can be helpful as a narrative, but don’t anticipate anyone will see it on the wire.


1990s Media: Go to tradeshows and meet all the industry reporters. Go out for coffee and lunch to build a network of reporters dedicated to following one or two tech concepts you specialize in.

2020 Media: The most powerful reporters work remotely, and they often cover a handful of unrelated technologies. They may be covering workforce tech and health care communications security. They no longer have focused beats; technology is moving too fast.


1990s Media Briefings: Explain why the tech product is cool and a must-have in the industry. Use positioning like “on-the-fly” and “real-time” as breakthrough descriptors.

2020 Media Briefings: Contextualize the pain-points of the market and leverage data to quantify the market impact.


1990s Earned Media Strategy: Send out a bunch of press releases written by the most junior billable PR person in the firm that you can find. Think of a punchy sub-header with a play on words.

2020 Earned Media Strategy: Build an intensive product thought leadership strategy to connect the advancement of the technology to current macro trends that are reshaping markets.


1990s PR Firm Billings: We will charge you $14 for every fax sent to every reporter. We will charge you for every copy we make of the press release under your client code on the copier. Campaigns are the most expensive recurring item in the marketing mix.

2020 PR Firm Billings: No one wants paper anything. Executive marketers expect and need to see a projection of ROI based on budget. They need PR to feed the lead generation ecosystem that they’re meticulously building as half marketer, half data scientist. PR is a highly valuable part of that ecosystem.

 A 2020 campaign can generate a level of value not attainable more than 20 years ago – but it’s important to collaborate with a firm that has created and operates on best practices and methods in step with modern marketing.