The twin crafts of PR and journalism have an uneasy alliance, it seems to me.
Both need each other yet it’s too often an uncomfortable relationship with the pot calling the kettle black too much of the time.
Back in April 2006, I wrote an opinion piece on what I called the real symbiosis between PR and journalism which generated quite a bit of discussion, most of it disagreeing (strongly in some cases) with my views.
Counter views came thick and fast from both journalists and PRs.
Nearly two years on and I see little to change my core view, which is that if PR and journalism are nothing more than channels or conduits which distort and manipulate the original message, they will become irrelevant to the people out there – the so-called audiences or publics.
Note emphasis on the word "if."
So I read a pretty interesting post by Jeremy Hillman, editor of the BBC business and economics unit, yesterday in which he made reference to the uneasy relationship I mentioned.
I did like the way in which he highlighted the changes confronting all of us and how we ought to regard them:
[…] 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.
This is about shifts in thinking, much more substantial than the (over used) glass-half-full viewpoint, that really do require a bit of courage to recognize that you must change your mindset.
The most interesting bit was Jeremy’s conclusion:
[…] 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.
A pleasure to read such balanced opinion from an influential journalist.