New start at PRWeek gives cause to celebrate interaction

This is my last column as PRWeek's editor-in-chief, as I hand over to Keith O'Brien, who has served as executive editor since last year. I am taking on the publishing director role, moving to a more strategic job that oversees all aspects of the brand.

This is my last column as PRWeek's editor-in-chief, as I hand over to Keith O'Brien, who has served as executive editor since last year. I am taking on the publishing director role, moving to a more strategic job that oversees all aspects of the brand.

I am very excited about this opportunity (and my continued role on DMNews, our sister publication), and I know that PRWeek editorial is in the most capable hands possible. Keith, along with senior editors Erica Iacono and Gideon Fidelzeid, leads an energized and incredibly smart team that is committed to responsible, provocative reporting on the industry.

Nevertheless, it's a poignant time of transition for me. When I took over the role in 2002, the industry was in a state of tremendous upheaval and pain.

Since that time, the industry has rebounded in ways both remarkable and reassuring. Remarkable because its advancement has dovetailed so beautifully with an overall revolution in information. Reassuring because this current period of economic uncertainty is less frightening, as PR has advanced in professionalism and relevance light years beyond where it was.

When I first took over the role and had to write the editor's column each week, I was plagued with doubts. I heard "Who cares what you think?" in my head. Fortunately, there were a number of candid PR people who would tell me when I sucked and when I got it right. Sometimes we'd get it right and people would be upset. That would ultimately be OK, too. Because the PR industry, at the end of the day, "gets" the fact that this is a relationship, and like any relationship it needs tending through the ups and downs.

That being said, there are a few people who have always told me the truth (I think). Before I go, I would like to thank them for doing their trade publication the courtesy of paying attention and caring enough about it to make their opinions known.

First is Harris Diamond, CEO of Weber Shandwick, whose occasional phone calls I'd sometimes dread, but who was never unfair, and who is personally responsible for eradicating the theme of "PR's inferiority complex" from the title. Second is Wes Pedersen, principal of his eponymous firm, who is peerless in his e-mails and letters to the editor, most of which challenged our take on everything from Britney to the economy.

Third, Text 100 CEO Aedhmar Hynes, for her willingness to talk through the challenges of agency management and client service in equal parts. Finally, Kim Hunter, CEO of Lagrant Communications, who pushed us to do a better job on diversity, and still helps us understand just why it still matters.

I could name others, of course, but there is no space and no time. I'm too busy, not least with launching a blog on PRWeek.com, titled Page Views. My goal is to look at the intersection of the challenges facing media companies and the PR industry.

I look forward to working with you all in my new role. I also hope that you'll be good to your editorial team because they work incredibly hard to get it right every single week.

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