Friday, February 25, 2005

For shame

Via Profnet yesterday, I received this query...

10. PUBLIC RELATIONS: PR-Themed Reality Show -- Ragan's Media Relations Report (US)

For a short news story about the March debut of the MTV reality show 'PoweR Girls' (about Lizzie Grubman and her band of publicists), I'd like to include some comments from PR people regarding what impact the show will have on the image of PR. (You can read about the program at http://www.mtv.com/onair/dyn/power_girls/series.jhtml) Do you think such a show will bring young people into the industry? Will it make PR people look like airheads? All opinions welcomed, and feel free to be snarky. Ragan's Media Relations Report is a national newsletter covering the media for people in PR. No phone calls, please. Monitored by eWatch

Need leads by: 03:00 PM US/Eastern FEB 28

Christine Kent [profnet@ckeditorial.com] URL: http://www.ragan.com

And, to tell you the truth, I'm shocked that Ragan would actively go and look for attacks on a publicist or PR person. What ever happened to journalistic objectivity?

I sent in my own response to Christine:
As a PR person that writes on the industry for a blog - http://pop-pr.blogspot.com - and has interviewed some of the stalwarts of our PR community, my view is that public relations and publicity are two different animals, and you cannot really compare them.

Plus, I have written in the past about Ms. Lizzie Grubman, and believe that while she may had the misfortune of bad press, it appears she does do a good job for her clients.

As for your Profnet query, such a show will likely bring more young people into the industry. If you did interact with young PR students - as I do - you would know that many want to be publicists or event planners, not the more traditional fields of public relations, such as corporate communications or product or consumer public relations. Plus, what really hurt our industry was Sex & the City, where everyone thought that Samantha epitomized public relations.

Once again, let me restate that it will not make PR people look like airheads - since the show is about publicists. Quite a difference. But, seeing how MTV edits the Real World/Road Rules, they are not goig to highlight the women sitting in the office making phone calls and pitching clients, but something that will appeal to their 14 year old audience.

As for the request to be snarky, I would hope that Ragan would take the high road and not try to tear down a publicist or public relations professional. In a time where PR has real issues to deal with - Armstrong Williams paid pundit, Karen Ryan as a reporter, the LADWP billing scandal - Ms. Grubman's televison show on MTV is the least of our worries.
This was more of a grab at blatant self-promotion by attempting to take an easy swing at something (Grubman), rather than setting the difference between PR and Publicity straight.

Truthfully, this bothers me, and it's not the first incidence of "attack-mode" that I have seen in the public relations or publicity blogs - yes, I know it's the nature of PR to go for the jugular against the competition, and I have pointed out inconsistencies and issues I have seen with other firms on this blog.

But, at times, we do need to circle the wagons and defend public relations and publicity. While at the NewComm Forum, this was a pretty in-depth discussion I had with my new Texas friend from Ketchum. Which leads me to this - if you are a PR blogger that is pitched by a PR person, there are a couple ways to handle it. Snarky and Classy. There's a reason that I look at Podboy as a PR king among men, and that's why - he's always a classy dude.


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