Post 68:08 Hateful?

A couple of days ago, it was suggested to me that this blog expresses a hatred of PR people and that some PR people are therefore fearful of approaching me.

Hate is a strong word. So let me put on the record how I feel and why I blog.

I certainly find that many PR people make amateurish mistakes and this ticks me off because it wastes my time. This blog becomes a way of letting off steam. It’s also a better way of letting off steam than being rude to PR people, which I think I hardly ever do. PRs who call me will, I hope, always receive a respectful hearing.

I also write about PR because I want PRs, their clients, media and the general public to know about my experiences. I think the constant amateurism deserves a little sunshine.

I’m aware that there is an asynchronous relationship at work here, and that it would be very hard for a PR to blog in a similar vein. But hey, FakeSteve is a useful precedent for all sorts of things …

There’s also an undercurrent of exploration in this blog. Like many people, I am concerned that PR’s prevalence can sometimes limit debate, rather than allowing it to flow freely.  I also feel that PR’s role in grooming news for easy consumption is something that is poorly-understood by the public. Many readers and viewers, I believe, are not always aware that content presented to them as “news” and which they understand to have been filtered for news value by professional, well-resourced, editors, was in fact motivated entirely by commercial agendas and put together by professional, well-resourced, PRs. Sunshine is needed in this arena, especially in an age of corporate social media.

In my work, I try to avoid news manufactured for those purposes. That means I end up saying No to PRs a lot. Or I ask a lot of questions trying to learn whether or not there is value beneath the groomed messages.

Very often, PRs blanche in the face of that questioning, interpreting it as hostile.

If that makes me appear hateful, so be it. But it is is not hostility, for the record. It is trying to do my job by digging into a topic. And it is an expression of frustration at having to explain the same things over and over and over.

If it makes me hard to approach, well surely that should be a challenge to public relations practitioners to communicate effectively with a less-than-receptive target. I though that was what PR was all about.

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2 thoughts on “Post 68:08 Hateful?

  1. Hateful, no. I think it’s educational. I encourage all my team (especially the newcomers to PR) to read your blog – not to scare them about pitching to you but so they know what it is that you want, and why you want it. That’s the beauty of it really is that the rules are very clear. However, I will admit that it’s hard sometimes as the middleman PR person to get companies to dig beneath the party line and find a ‘genuine story’ when all they want is product coverage or uncontroversial messaging, however it doesnt mean I’ll stop trying! We definitely need more insights into the industry and your right, most people have no idea the news they read every day comes straight from a press release. You only have to watch Media Watch a couple of times to be astounded by what gets picked up as “news”.

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