Wednesday, October 27, 2004

What does the P in PR stand for?

Dan Gillmor, the blogger / journalist extraordinaire from the SJ Merc, blogged today about a PR pitch that he received about a new tracking tool.

From the posting, here's the PR pitch:
(PR client) is a market intelligence and media analysis services firm. (PR client) is working with F1000 companies who are using our services to Manage and Monitor Digital Influencers (such as blogs, message boards, user groups, complaint sites, etc.) as an intelligence and threat awareness tool. (Person's name), CEO could talk to you about 'What F1000 Companies are doing to take action against bloggers' and 'How companies are taking steps to protect their corporate reputations from bloggers/digital influencers.'
Personally, I wish that he had left the name of the client, so others would know who it was that sent out the pitch.

Once again, though, a pitch like this brings up what Jack O'Dwyer said during my interview with him for the Global PR Blog Week:
Right now, there are very bad forces affecting public relations. We are supposed to be a bridge for the press to get to CEOs, not a barrier, but the industry has fallen into the trap of blocking access for the press. There is this tremendous force that is trying to convert public relations into advertising, especially at the conglomerates, and that will be the downfall of public relations.
Let me reiterate that: we are supposed to be a bridge for the press to get to CEOs, not a barrier.

But, it gets better. PR used to stand for public relations. Not press relations, but public relations. The company that pitched Gillmor doesn't get that. In their pitch, they note that the CEO could talk "about 'What F1000 Companies are doing to take action against bloggers' and 'How companies are taking steps to protect their corporate reputations from bloggers/digital influencers.'"

Small problem here - shouldn't F1000 companies want to learn how to influence influencers, to work with them and find out what their issues are? Shouldn't they want to not take action against bloggers, but work with bloggeres?

Aren't bloggers - despite the media's obsession with pajamas and blogging - part of the greater public? Aren't bloggers just a different type of influencer from years passed, but now with a larger audience?

Instead of trying to control the message, which is what PR has become, how about working with the public to fully disseminate the message? Our industry is PUBLIC relations, and bloggers are another facet of the public that we need to reach out to, and ensure that they are fully apprised of our message.

Here's one example. Back in the day, I would make sure that a client was reaching out to certain enthusiast Websites. Back then, they were just called Websites, but now they would be considered blogs. By being one of the few companies actively courting these sites, the client had a leg up on the competition - they had built relationships, were able to get information and product into these people, and treated them as valuable as print journalists for the market segment.

Let's not be pulling the Heisman move all the time. Let's take back PR, where we help journalists - and now bloggers - get information that they would want or need. Let's take back the industry, and make it public relations once again.

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Other bloggers that have chimed in, and brought great perspectives, include Matthew Podboy, Tom Murphy Shel Holtz, Elizabeth Albrycht, and from the Auburn bloggers, "Les" is More (I don't know her real name!) and Jessica Stephens.

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