Monday, July 27, 2009

Three reasons why PR is no longer the whipping boy

This is cross-posted from The Saltlick blog.

From marketers to journalists to mom bloggers, PR has traditionally been the favorite scapegoat of those in other areas of the communication field. Commonly referred to as purveyors of the “dark side” of communications, public relations professionals have dealt with a tainted label far too long. But that label is a non sequitur now, and here’s why:

1. The economy is a great leveler. Hoards of journalists have exited their profession – and at least some of them have entered public relations, a field they once castigated. I’ve watched this trend with interest and predict that more seasoned journalists will come to view public relations professionals with a lot more respect.

2. Digital deadlines and a “news now” mindset necessitate an alliance. News journalists simply have more to do with fewer resources. Today’s journalist must view PR professionals as a service-oriented commodity, necessary due to digital news timeframes. Newer journalists will welcome strong PR relationships.

3. The mommy blogger PR Blackout yielded backlash. Even Trisha, owner of, admits that she ill chose the name of a one-week campaign whose intent she *claims* was to encourage mom bloggers to get back to the basics of parent blogging. The ensuing conversation split the parent blogging community, yielded poor participation (latest estimates were 20 committed to participating) and had journalists like Cnet’s Caroline McCarthy declaring that “Working with the public relations industry is core to any journalist's (and now blogger's) job, as is the use of press releases and in some cases review products.” It’s a sure sign that whipping up on PR is passé and not to be done.

I also think that PR is naturally embracing strategic relationship management and expectations from an increasingly complex array of stakeholders and publics in a way that marketers and advertisers cannot in Web 2.0. Stakeholder demand for authenticity is placing PR professionals in the leadership role to define corporate values and to sustain interactive relationship building. The result is that the PR profession is building trust with more constituencies than ever before.

Taken together, these markers signal – to me, at least – a new era in PR, one that shows the value of the profession.


  1. Bravo! Bravo! Years ago, I stumbled into PR from broadcast journalism when the TV station where I was working discontinued its 24-hour all news format. At the time, I figured, "Hey, I'll just do this 'PR thing' until my next TV gig comes along. It's just writing press releases anyway, right?" Since then, I've worked on multi-million dollar branding/public awareness media/community relations/government relations campaigns, crisis communication planning for one of the largest seaports in the world and, yes, written quite a few press releases as well as corporate magazines, annual reports, speeches, video scripts, fact sheets, on and on. And I'm pursuing APR and ABC accreditations. Clearly, PR must embrace strategic relationship management and expectations from diverse stakeholders and publics. Advertising and marketing are most effective in an environment that's been conditioned and seasoned by effective PR that defines corporate values and sustains interactive relationship building. Thank you for this post. I'm going to RT it Twitter.

  2. Thanks, Felicia, for your comments. Absolutely, journalism does not necessarily translate into PR. Some of the skill sets do overlap, but ultimately, journalism and PR are different jobs. Professionals in both careers need to work together respectfully.