Monday, July 21, 2008

Here's what I'm thinking this moment about the Web TV one company is doing

It is different, it is creative, and it is catching everyone's attention.

No, it is not your father's news or communication vehicle, or even your grandfather's plan for sharing information, but a top-of-mind energy company is definitely trying something that's out of the box.

They've tapped into some proven talent and have joined with journalists who are currently at the top of their game when it comes to ethics and professionalism. Are these seasoned journalists taking a risk? Are they taking a leap and trying something new? Sure they are. But up until this point, they have not, as of yet, to my knowledge, compromised their values and ethics. I would be very surprised if they do so at this late juncture in their distinguished careers.

The venture has journalists, PR pros and politicians alike giving their thoughts, opinions and forecasts on what this new venture with Web TV means for the company, the consumer and the fields of journalism and public relations.

The program/effort discussed in the articles below will be web-based via a company called Branded News. I found the site interesting.

What concerns me most about the articles highlighting this new communication initiative is when politicians and journalists use a news story like this to take a jab at those individuals who work in the field of public relations and communications. The people I know and work with in the field follow a strict Code of Ethics that is a part of the national association of PRSA of which I am a member.

Read more below:

When reporters go to work in PR, I often hear the phrase "they are going to the dark side." I usually surmise that the person who made the comment knows very little about public relations. I use the opportunity to share the stories about the chances I've had to advocate for important causes and help tell others' stories - like the Fort Worth man who was living on $300 a month and was attacked by a pack of dogs while out on a morning walk. He lost part of his arm and his eyeglasses were destroyed in the tragedy. A viewer saw his story on the evening news and mailed a check for several hundred dollars to him so he could replace his glasses. Or the dear patient, David, who lost his home in the Fort Worth tornadoes. I mean he lost everything, including his beloved truck, and he had survived to tell about it. He was living on a very limited income and he wanted to thank those who helped save his life. He shared his story from his hospital room and within a couple of days a "Good Samaritan" showed up with a new truck for him, keys to a furnished apartment and offered David a new life and a second chance. The Good Samaritan told me at the time: "David's story touched me. I'm here for him and I'll be here for him as long as he needs me." The field is rarely dark and I have always found it to be challenging, educational, rewarding, exciting, heartwarming and a wonderful place to be because it is a place where I can help people and advance important issues around health and wellness.

I think those who make the "dark side" comments or even the "not a bunch of chumps" comment may have forgotten that many of us in "PR" went to journalism school and earned a degree in the field. Whether a journalism major is in the newsroom or the corporate board room, they have an obligation and a duty to tell the truth, share the facts and do the very best job they can do for those they are advocating for ~ be that their company, the consumer, their customers, their readers, their viewers, etc. In my opinion, PR practitioners are very often a stable, sound and vital link from the corporate board room to the newsroom and vice-versa.

Let's see what this new venture offers and reserve judgment as the players requested. Let's watch local talent venture out and try something new and hope for the best. Let's keep a watchful eye and continue listening to our customers and our stakeholders. It is an exciting time for our field and we shouldn't let a quote in the newspaper or on a Web site diminish the work we do and believe in.

Just like in Girl Scouts, here's a pledge for you. This time it is from the PRSA Code of Ethics and it can be easily applied to people in many different fields. It was written with PR professionals in mind: "I pledge to conduct myself professionally, with truth, accuracy, fairness, and responsibility to the public; To improve my individual competence and advance the knowledge and proficiency of the profession through continuing research and education; And to adhere to the articles of the Member Code of Ethics 2000 for the practice of public relations as adopted by the governing Assembly of the Public Relations Society of America."

The truth will always prevail. Those who do great work and live by a code of ethical behavior and judgment will succeed, and those who keep their stakeholders, customers, and the needs of their fellow man (woman and child) paramount and advocate for truth, honesty and fairness will always sleep soundly at night and have a place in this ever-changing world of communications and public relations.

1 comment:

  1. It's hard to argue against truth. Stephen Colbert coined the term "truthiness," which I think is where this whole issue gets sticky.

    I know this gets uncomfortable for some PR folks, but the fact is that we often operate in an environment in which "truth" takes on many shades of gray. As advocates (especially in issues management and crisis communications where there are often two or more factions), we are sometimes challenged to have our perspective of the truth overcome a competing perception of the truth. It doesn't make one truth less true, although it often is characterized that way.

    To oversimplify it as a right vs. wrong dicotomy doesn't really advance the discussion, in my opinion.

    I'm not a journalist, although I once was one. Now I am an advocate. The only reason anyone should be concerned about this is when someone intentionally misleads the public into thinking that they are getting unbiased information from a source that actually is biased. Disclosure and transparency are key.

    Love the blog, BTW!