I've always enjoyed working on trade publications because it allows me to truly get to know an industry and its people, often becoming a part of a community I might have never imagined existed. Beat reporters can do the same at a general news outlet, but there's something uniquely satisfying about working on a publication where everyone – reporters, publisher, sales staff – is devoted to understanding a single industry.
PRWeek, of course, continues to evolve in a very real way, not only in personnel and new products like its daily Breakfast Briefing e-newsletter and the monthly print edition, but also in how it covers and engages with the PR industry. Its most recent transition has certainly generated discussion – internally and from the industry – about the role of the magazine. I sometimes hear it suggested that it should be a champion for the industry. In many ways, that's true. With its knowledge of the industry, PRWeek can help those not in PR understand the value of the business, as well as how it works, its history, and its players. We're often called by other media looking for either commentary on a PR issue or for data from some of our products, such as the Salary Survey.
However, I most often hear the “PRWeek should champion the industry” line suggested when we're writing a story that the PR pro on the other end of phone – agency and corporate representative – wants me to kill. I've been told numerous times that we shouldn't print a story about layoffs because either it wasn't “important enough,” or because “it wouldn't help the industry.” And I had a PR pro recently tell me flat out that I shouldn't allow a story to go through because it would hurt his client relationship, and it was my job to help, not hurt, the industry.
We are not here to be a blithely unaware cheerleader for PR, always shaking our pompoms. If that were the case, no one in the industry would read us, and certainly it would ruin any chance PRWeek has of being an ambassador for the industry to the outside world. Our content – and our brand – would lose all of its relevance.
We're here, of course, to chronicle the daily ups and downs throughout the industry, as well as its trends, overall health, and innovations. But I also believe we are here to challenge the PR profession and hold it accountable. That is, after all, what being part of a community is all about. By the same token, though, I encourage the PR industry to continue to challenge us to become better, to become more relevant – to evolve. As the industry's trade publication, PRWeek does, in many ways, work for you, so I hope to hear from more of you going forward on how we can improve and better serve the community in a way that helps achieve our respective goals. Do not, though, expect to be met by a passive lapdog. Ideally, there will be some pushback and discussion on both sides.