Journalists and PR
I've just had an interesting day at a one day conference for PR and the media. There was quite a buzz about the book Flat Earth News by Nick Davies which looks at the relationship between journalists and the public relations world and draws some not so positive conclusions.
One of my fellow panellists duly quoted the line “news is what they don't want you print, everything else is PR” (I'm paraphrasing but please do let me know the full quote if you know it). Another mentioned the number of journalists who now move over to the 'dark side'.
But it was something else that struck me more than this uneasy relationship. As I explained how we're restructuring BBC News to meet the challenges of an online, non-linear world I suddenly realised what a challenging and difficult job PR can be these days and how much we have in common.
If you're in PR you now have the opportunity to take your message direct to the public in a hundred new ways, at least if you understand the technology well enough. Blogs, vodcasts, podcasts, Twitter streams and social networking are all there to exploit and there's more every day. And you've got to be brave enough to let your content be shared and messed around with. With all this happening, we 'traditional media' are still too important to ignore, though, as Nick Davies points out in his book, we're often too busy to take the call or read the e-mail.
It seems to me effective PR isn't about flogging a ropey product launch. It comes from a deep understanding and mastery of the issues around the industry and business you represent and the ability to express those powerfully and honestly. And that, like good journalism, takes time.