For the most part, I find the PR industry’s trade publications — PRWeek, PRNewser, PRNews, etc. — to be good standard-bearers for effectively covering the ins-and-outs of this diverse and growing industry. Sure, they tend to focus too much on AOR announcements — the old-time stock ticker-tape reports of PR — but they do the job.
So I try to do my best not to critique. Look, reporters and editors have a tough job at those publications. They are reporting on the very people — PR pros — who know how to promote a cause or a person better than anyone. So I imagine there is quite a lot of pushback and calls for fluffier fluff pieces than at your standard trade reporter’s job.
But there is one type of trade story I can’t stand: the “[Fill in new/flashy technology] is destroying the profession!” piece. You see it every few months, often when some new social network or platform catches fire. Suddenly, PR pros are running around like chickens with their heads cut off, desperately trying to answer client questions about whether they can “Pin” their latest press release (as if anyone cares).
And so it was that I came across a blog post headlined, “Create, but don’t compromise” by former PRWeek Editor Julia Hood.
After relaying a few anecdotes about how The Economist routinely makes PR pros sound like the scourge of the earth, she gets to the meat of her argument:
The always-on, abbreviated nature of today’s digital communications is leaving many PR pros “worry[ing that] we are compromising by increments every day.”
Hmmm. Not so sure about that.
She’s right in noting that PR pros must always keep the verification of facts and information they disseminate in mind when crafting any and all communications, no matter truncated they may be. But I always get a little worried when I read a PR trade (or blog) try to make the point that just because we have so many new and fast-moving comms channels to work with, PR pros somehow inherently risk losing their credibility or professional standards.
If that were the case, TV would have corrupted the profession long ago as it overtook the seemingly austere days of radio. Obviously, that was not the case. And we shouldn’t try to imagine it will be the case now that we have moved firmly into the digital age.
In that respect, I sincerely hope that PR pros aren’t worrying whether “we are compromising by increments every day” just because Twitter and other social networks have become powerful new communications platforms. If anything, we should be celebrating the growth they have provided to the PR industry and the ability they have given PR pros to finally move away from the days of one-dimensional press release development.
Of course, there will always be issues inherent with a profession adopting any new form of communication or engagement platform. But that’s no reason for us to worry that we’re somehow chinking away at the very standards of professionalism and standards that underpin the profession.