It was no big surprise to hear the head of corporate comms for Google in the UK, Ireland and Benelux explaining "How the Internet Changes Everything ... and that includes PR." But some Leeds Met students listening to D-J Collins last night will have been struck by how firmly much of his advice was grounded in 'traditional' PR values.
Yes, he flourished some mind-bending facts about how quickly technology is evolving, not least in our capacity to store and access information, but his central theme was that PR is about simple, effective, and honest communication.
Do your homework, identify your messages, project them with enthusiasm and clarity: "If the message is strong enough people will hear."
Citing Foreign Secretary David Miliband's Flickr site as an example ("If you were DM why wouldn't you do it?") D-J urged PR to embrace and experiment with social media: "You can ignore it or you can explore it."
Straightaway he attached a health warning about internet transparency (much of it driven by search enginesd like Google), arguing that the old PR maxim that if you tell something confidently enough people will believe it no longer works in the New PR.
"Be honest and open. The internet is forcing those who were prepared to tell a lie to wise up."
That's changed, but the need for the world's most visible internet brand to engage with traditional media relations hasn't. "Newspapers still matter and will continue to matter for many years to come."
D-J said he spent far more of his time talking to traditional journalists than to bloggers, adding: "You can never read enough news."
The important thing is to really understand what you are talking about: "The better you understand the compexity of the product the better you sell the story.
Essentially his advice to those looking to forge a career in PR was keep it simple.
"You are going to have to counsel people who have no experience of PR. You are going to have to be very confident and concise. The people who succeed are the people who call out their counsel down on one page.
"Unless you can boil it down to two or three things, you shouldn't be counselling them."
Welcome to the New PR: Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.....