Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

Public Relations is Such a Sensitive Profession . . .

Posted by Tom Foremski - August 18, 2008

PR is such sensitive profession. Anytime anyone criticizes any aspect of the practice of public relations the industry pays lots of attention along with a lot of mea culpa. If journalists did the same we'd never get any work done.

Jennifer Leggio over at ZDNet has a good account of the latest PR bashing incident: Bloggers vs. PR - the broken record continues to skip | Feeds | ZDNet.com

It seems to me that the PR industry takes on criticism in two ways:

1 - it agrees with the criticism and pledges to do better accompanied by donning of hair shirts and self-flailing blog posts that go on and on for pages.

2 - It dismisses the criticism as massively ill informed and the ravings of an idiot..

It is usually 90 per cent number 1.

Whenever I come across such behavior in a friend I know that something is up, that there is a self-esteem issue at work, maybe, and that there must be something deeper going on. . .

The deeper stuff is that things have changed in the PR industry, and they've changed forever. Yet sometimes things look the same as before. And that can be a confusing time.

Some of my friends in the PR industry get upset with me for saying that things have changed. But my saying that things have changed didn't cause it, I'm just saying what I see.

Wily E CoyoteIt is similar to when I became a journalist "blogger" 4 years ago. My friends at the Wall Street Journal, San Jose Mercury News, SF Chronicle, Forbes, Fortune, Reuters, AP, etc would sometimes shoot me cold looks as if, as a "blogger," I was responsible for making their lives a misery, because they now have work longer hours, and live under the threat of job cuts, and they can't go home at 5pm every day, anymore.

The trends in media have nothing to do with me, I'm swept up in the dynamics of this industry the same way as everyone else--I'm trying to deal with the disruption.

What I understood four years ago was: the business model for media had changed forever and it wouldn't return to the old ways, and that is the future for PR too.

The same forces that are dramatically changing, and remaking the media industry, will do the same for the PR industry. Yet that change isn't very visible yet, it is masked. This is because PR is making money with traditional services plus making money selling "new media/social media" services, these are boom times for PR. Change only happens when it hurts to do things the old way, that's why the media industry is changing.

It sometimes seems as if the PR industry is Wiley Coyote chasing the Roadrunner--all is well as long as no one looks down and notices the road has gone, and there is nothing there but gravity and a distant canyon floor.

- - -

Please see:

Chris Anderson's PR Blacklist Backlash - The Long Tail of Bad PR

Raining on the PR industry's parade...

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