PR reading for the weekend – July 15, 2011

David Reich has a post about a survey that asked what PR people don’t like about PR. Topping the list is ‘cold calling’.  OK I can understand that.  But what was second on the list? What was the second greatest thing that PR people don’t like about PR?  Apparently it’s having their press releases heavily edited. Seriously? We PR folks are precious creatures aren’t we? My first press release was so heavily edited that you actually couldn’t see the original words.  The funny thing is that it was such a disgrace I actually kept it.  When I moved to Seattle I found it when I was packing up my home office.  I scanned it, but nearly twenty years on I still won’t share it, I’d be mortified.


Judy Gombita has an interesting interview with Arthur Yann, vice president of Public Relations for the PRSA. When asked about what he finds professionally frustrating he answered:

I recently wrote about one of my biggest frustrations for the PRBreakfastClub blog. And that is, the number of self-proclaimed experts on Twitter and other social media platforms.  I mean who or what qualifies so many opinions? On what basis in fact are many statements made? Do these industry “observers” actually know anything about what it is they’re commenting about? Have they read and do they understand what they’re re-tweeting, given the third-party perception is that they’re endorsing the content?

Now there’s a man after my own heart. Amen.


Heather Yaxley has a post that suggests that journalists and PR practitioners should never be friends. I don’t agree. I’ve worked in this business for nearly twenty years and I’m lucky to count a number of journalists – both in Europe and the United States – as friends – all of whom I’ve met through my work. I don’t buy the Tiger analogy (read the post). As a professional there’s a church and state relationship. If there’s mutual respect and professionalism there’s rarely a problem, if you don’t have either then I’d suggest you’re not friends.

On the PR Conversations site, Heather has an interview with the wonderful Richard Bailey who describes the current state of Public Relations as:

It’s exciting. Public relations is universally needed but widely misunderstood and derided. It’s needed more than ever because of the disruptive power of digital communications, yet is also under threat because of the convergence of communications disciplines.



You may have seen this already, but via the Lois Paul & Partners Beyond the Hype blog the fantastic Jon Stewart take on the News of the World scandal (not sure if this is available outside the U.S.)…. and personally I think Hugh Grant deserves a lot of credit.



Finally, I enjoyed reading The Atlantic’s “14 Biggest Ideas of the Year” – hat tip to Piaras Kelly.


Have a nice weekend…

6 thoughts on “PR reading for the weekend – July 15, 2011

  1. Thanks for all the links – to PRC and my own blog. Love also the example regarding learning from criticism. I once had a boss who never red penned, just returned work and asked you to try again. Definitely learned mind-reading with that one!

    Re friendship with journalists, I agree over genuine friendship where there is mutual respect and professionalism. However, a lot of “friendships” in this business are more fickle and can be like keeping a tiger as a pet; as Murdoch and the UK political world have found out.

    Using an analogy of canine psychology – you can get a dog to obey through fear or respect. It is only with the latter that you can be sure your pet will attack others in times of trouble and not turn on you too!!

  2. Hi Heather,

    Thanks for your comment.

    I am so stressed just reading about your passive aggressive boss. Lord I can think of nothing worse, give me the red pen any day 😉

    On friendship, yes I agree, both PR people and journalists do need to be careful and professional, there are dangers for both where that isn’t present, however I just don’t think it’s a blanket no-no. In the spirit of a traditional PR response… it depends :)

    I’ll skip adding any more animal analogies 😉

    Kind regards

  3. I remember in my first job the excitement of getting my news release in the Financial Times – my first attempt at targeting the FT worked and it appeared almost unedited, just a bit added to the begining and end. It was for a small listed structural steel company with a very gruff Yorkshire chairman. When he called I was delighted expecting to hear congratulations.

    Instead I was met with a torrent of four letter abuse:

    Client: They’ve spelt my f***ing name wrong.
    Me: But it’s the same as in the news release.
    Client: But that was wrong as well.
    Me: But, you approved it – you signed it and faxed it back to me.
    Client: I expected you to correct the mistakes.
    Me: I’m really sorry but, you didn’t tell me there were any. I didn’t know there were mistakes.
    Client: Slams down phone.

    My lesson was learnt.

  4. Hilarious Stuart, brilliant.

    When I consider the amount and variety of lessons I learnt in those first few years… I’m not sure I could do it again.

    I’m still learning every day (hour?) of course, but thankfully the volume has decreased somewhat :)


  5. Thanks, Tom, for your ongoing support of PR Conversations. (Tom was too modest to say that he was my very first “PR Motion” interview subject; Arthur Yann is the fourth.)

    This is the comment I left on David Reich’s blog (about PR Motion #2 subject!):

    Regarding news releases, did you ever read my interview with Mike Spear one year ago? (He’s a former journalist.) Specifically, this question and answer:

    PR practitioners are often criticized by journalists. In your view, what are the best and worst things they do when dealing with broadcast newsrooms?

    A really good PR person tells the story of his or her organization. He or she makes it come alive. Be relevant. Interesting. A practitioner that makes me say, “I didn’t know that.”

    The worst public relations efforts were, and still are, those with the “corporate line.” I don’t care whether it’s in a media release, social media efforts, an interview or a speech to the local chamber, of commerce: if you’re, “Proud to lead a world-class organization in the perfect economic storm we are facing in the global marketplace today,” then you have lost the media, the general public, your shareholders and likely even the more astute politicians. No matter how many warning flags pop-up, that kind of clichéd and meaningless language just won’t go away. I’ve been backed into a corner occasionally where I’ve been forced to write something like that, but on the rare occasion that happens, I know which inexperienced reporters will bite and which influential journalists must not receive the media release.


  6. Judy you’re more than welcome, thanks for the continued great content and insight!

    As for the need for storytelling, it seems that the story is always the first casualty :)


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