PR has really been taking it on the chin in the blogosphere over the past couple of weeks. Some of the charges include PR being too controlling and unnecessary if a company has something interesting and wants to launch it. PR may be obsolete, one other prominent blogger suggested. We are too sensitive to criticism as an industry, another chimed in.
I hate to dignify a rant with a direct response, so I wrote a blog post that depicted George Bailey of “It's a Wonderful Life” as an A-list blogger who finds out what life in Bedford Falls is like without PR. What George and other bloggers and influencers would quickly learn is the hidden value and order we PR people bring to their lives:
- Editing announcement releases to reduce the amount of marketing hyperbole and hone the content to provide the facts and figures reporters need in as concise a manner as possible
- Serving as “Dr. No” to extraneous announcements so there is not a blanket wire release of the new manager in the Topeka, KS, office
- Targeting outreach around announcements so only reporters or bloggers specifically interested in a market or technology receive them rather than sending everything to everyone every time
- Helping spokespeople learn to get to the point quickly so even a 10 minute interview gives journalists or bloggers what they need
- Influencing product launch plans so point releases don't result in press conferences
- Talking executives into coming out of the “bunker” when the news isn't good rather than saying “no comment”
- Encouraging top executives who are publicity shy to provide the valuable view-from-the-top that helps influencers get a good handle on a company's vision and strategy
- Constantly talking with executives and their customers to spot trends we can flag to influencers well before they are recognized elsewhere
- Doing tons of legwork for influencers; turning on a dime as needed, so they can meet their deadlines
- Preempting many calls to editors when a CEO doesn't like the way a story turned out
I could go on for days, but do not want to risk protesting too much. Instead, I would pose the question to my esteemed colleagues: Am I the only one who has noticed how often the attacks on PR refer to control or money? Some of the complaints are that we control access to hot new companies who should be able to go directly to the influencers. We still get paid to do traditional PR (whatever that is) and now sell social media services as well.
Despite all of the goodness we provide – and most influencers whose arms are twisted by their PR friends will grudgingly acknowledge this – sometimes I think the real issues with PR relate to our influence on the marketing purse strings. We advise our companies about how they communicate, what shows they should attend, what consultants they should hire and what sponsorships they should buy. Is the anti-PR furor perhaps a veiled desire for our revenue rather than a complaint about our work?
Lois Paul is founder and president of Lois Paul & Partners.