Pushing forward the PR Meme

Steve Rubel finally steps up to the plate to take a leadership position, by putting forward a pretty good idea ... until you reach the last paragraph. And, he notes that I have been pushing him to take more of a leadership role, and he finally took the bait.

But, "ahem" indeed. I don't think he is very opinionated, and that's been my issue with his blog - take a stance, put out your neck.

However, when he does ... he puts it out behind an iron curtain.

As he notes:

I am using Writeboard as a collaborative tool and I love it. I would like to invite Richard Edelman and Phil Gomes from Edelman, Tom Biro from MWW, John Bell from Ogilvy PR, Niall Cook from H&K, Richard Cline from Voce and other “new media” gurus from the PR agency world (including PR Week and other organizations) to join me on a private Writeboard wiki where we can brainstorm some joint action initiatives to immerse PR pros. Then we can take these concepts and present them to a larger group to weigh in.
So, in other words, "me and some carefully chosen other grown-ups will handle this, children, and get back to you soon enough"?

Why hide behind an iron curtain, though? Make the Wiki public, and invite all various PR firms and PR bloggers to be involved. Or, why not do this on the New PR/Wiki?

Where are the other PR bloggers that have been doing this for a while that can bring great perspective about rebuilding PR?

Where's Burson, Golin/Harris, Weber Shandwick, PAN Communications, SparkPR or Outcast, to name a few off the top of my head that can add to the conversation and Wiki?

Where are the PR people from EU or Asia Pacific or Africa or South America?

What about involving the whole community of PR students at PRblogs.org and letting them observe, and maybe participate to bring a fresh view?

Instead of dismissing Global PR Blog Week, Rubel should have posted this there and helped push forward PR.

PR does need to change - or we might just need to throw away the baby and the bath water and start anew - but being exclusive isn't going to work. Some of the best PR is being done by consultants like David Parmet or Shel Holtz or Allen Jenkins or Andy Lark or Josh Hallett, who are working with companies to push PR forward, where we all have a stake in the future of PR. It's these consultants or small agencies that will truly push forward the industry, or remake it.

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8 comments

  1. Jeremy, my only reason was that I thought it would be more comfortable for folks, but I think you have a great idea. - Steve

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  2. Well... this side of the Atlantic things are no better but the issue is not just new media.

    There are many domains of PR practice. Each has a role. The critical element is that they come together to go the last 25% only when PR is strategically driven. That strategy has to be based on understanding what an organisation is, what a relationship is, the significance of multitouch interaction (which is not just communication) and the importance of understanding how relationships create new values (a marketable and competitive advantage).

    This means that the PR institutions have to step up to the line, and its not just new media.

    Here is an example, for years www.xprl.org has been languishing for want of support. Today I noted that Businesswire has adopted XBRL for transmission of non-financial reporting – the words not the numbers. These are PR words hijacked by the bean counters.

    In a media and information rich global society, where intangible assets run into $ trillions, the PR industry scrapes a living bullying journalists into opening one emailed press release among hundreds.

    As page numbers in print media dwindle almost by the hour mobile email, blogs, wiki's, sms, video and podcast are in common concurrent usage with TV, Radio and iTV.

    Not being involved in this evolution (most of the the above technologies have been available for years) will cost the industry dear. We fail our colleagues if we don't keep up the pressure.

    If the industry does not use it, it looses it.... and that means all of us.

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  3. The ideas you presented were good, but have been good since they were first bandied about years ago. Innovation tends to come from the consultants or small boutiques, not the large agencies. That's been true for generations, though.

    I do question the altruism and motives. For months, I have pinged you to take a leadership role, but it was not until I noted the duality of passing that role but taking media calls do you come out with an idea to be a leader.

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  4. Is there a secret handshake I could learn to be included among the grown-ups?

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  5. Got me, SB. I was also asked to sit and wait at the children's table.

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  6. I know this is getting a bit off the main subject of Steven's post, but I largely disagree that the reason we have a talent shortage in PR is because they haven't mastered skills associated with the changing media world. That may be part of it, but at least from my end, I still get the same requests from clients -- e.g. "Get me in (fill in a major outlet)."

    I think the way we sell PR programs, and the way expectations are set once those programs are sold, does a ton to burn people out. No amount of new technology use will solve this. I also think the talent problem is related more to the fact that there are kids barely out of school unleashed on tasks that are above their heads doesn't do much to help them either. The first time they get screamed at by someone who's irritated by their pitch, they're already on their way to burnout. As someone who was at a major media outlet during the dot-com boom, I can tell you it was a painful experience listening to some of the product pitches.

    I'm all for the use of blogs and other new technologies in promoting diversified PR programs. I just wish sometimes that we'd spend at least a small amount of time on important things like doing a better job of executing on the fundamentals that are our business.

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  7. Cyrus, you bring up the best point that people don't want to address: junior staff.

    Junior staff is thrown to the fire, and those that swim swim. But, it's easier to whine that blogs are going to save PR than to spend time with junior staff and work with them on pitching, writing pitches, call downs, overall writing.

    Yes, some of these things they should learn in college, but school usually is theory, not practice.

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  8. Thanks, Jeremy. And I realize many in the profession know this too, and that there are several reasons why things stay the same.

    One reason has to do with the realities that come with a billable hour environment. From the minute a new person gets to an agency, the focus becomes having them earn their way as much as it does making sure they're doing a good job and/or are charged with tasks that are appropriate for their level of expertise.

    I also realize that one of the benefits of smaller agencies, as it pertains to junior people, is they get to handle higher-level tasks sooner, and grow as a result. However, you have to have the right kind of supervision to make sure this is happening properly.

    As far as writing, that's complicated by the fact that we have to write the kind of things that clients will approve. And often that includes putting in language that the writers in us would rather leave out, i.e. phrases like "mission-critical solutions provider." That phrase in itself screams problem so loudly that your product would have to be pretty darn good to rise above it.

    And I agree with you about college. I was a journalism major in college and spent the first decade of my career as a writer/editor. It's like PR in many ways in that your skills improve greatly as you become more comfortable performing the skills that are core to the business.

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