You better hope that journalism makes it

For all the talk about the death of media, mainstream media, traditional media, broadcast media, print media and online media, since the turn of the century, they’re still hanging on. Sure circulations are down, many traditional papers have closed down, slimmed down or moved online.  But thankfully we still have the media, we still have journalists.

Social media has been great giving people a platform to share their opinions, but it doesn’t negate the need for journalists.

This isn’t a post about bloggers not being journalists by the way.


The world isn’t that simple anymore. 

Some bloggers are journalists, some are not. Regardless everyone has opinions and thanks to social media they can share those opinions.  On the whole, and in view of the alternative, that’s a good thing.

However, after twenty years in the Public Relations business, I remain more convinced than ever that journalists are an essential and valuable asset that we must support and protect. 

Their cause hasn’t been helped by the confusion surrounding business models in a world that has a cacophony of often free content. But the value of free content is often tied to the cost. 

If you catch my drift.

As I’ve often said before the great thing about opinions is that everyone has one, and the downside is the same.

We need journalism because we need someone to be looking at our world in an objective manner. Yes I know there are sometimes issues, as I already mentioned, I’ve worked in PR for over twenty years.  I know the issues.

However, in a world of vested interest, give me traditional journalism any day.

I read a lot of blogs.  I read them with a filter.  We know that people (present author included) write blogs for a reason, and it’s not often to do with the finding the truth. People want to showcase their knowledge, share insight, push an agenda, sell their wares. There’s nothing wrong with any of these motivations, but let’s not pretend that it’s a replacement for journalism, it’s an adjunct – at best.

The bottom line is that society needs journalism regardless of your views or leanings.  The medium may indeed be the message, but it doesn’t matter if  journalism is in print, video, audio or online.  What matters is that we have people involved in looking at our world with an objective lens.

Blogs are a tool, they aren’t a replacement for the practice of journalism.

We should all try and remember that.

As the old song goes, all god’s creatures have a place in the choir.

Tom’s Bumper Summer PR Miscellany…

Here are some personal picks from my most recent trawl of the RSS feeds…

What is PR?

  • OK this is late (from last February) but worth a listen.  It’s a podcast from the BBC World Service program The Bottom Line, with some well known PR executives having a lively discussion on what Public Relations is. Recommended.

Traditional Media…



Issues Management…


PR Skills…

  • Liam Fitzpatrick has generated a lot of discussion with his suggestion that writing skills shouldn’t be prioritized over other communications skills. 

I’m not suggesting that a communicator should be allowed to get away with bad writing. All I’m saying is that it doesn’t make sense to prioritise writing over any other skill – if a single skill is all that matters why shouldn’t it be film-making, web design or spamming twitter?

Dave Fleet [@davefleet] and Shel Holtz don’t agree.


PR thinking….

You should listen to this interesting CIPR interview with Seth Godin for this quote alone:

“PR is a human form of spam”




Great Storytelling…

This is a phenomenal example of great corporate storytelling…


Changing face of PR….

  • If you’re working in PR, you really should spend some time on the PR on Facebook page. No really. You should.




  • Really interesting research from a HP study on Twitter and influence that found that the number of followers on Twitter doesn’t necessarily translate into influence.


  • Josh Bernoff proposes a new model for PR and influencers. The problem of course is that people who would avail of this model are probably already doing a great job of reaching and engaging with folks.  The muppets sending irrelevant spam, well they’ll keep doing it.


An antidote for social media twaddle…

  • If like me you get grumpy reading the twaddle many of our self styled social media gurus peddle on Twitter as expertise, then this is the site for you.  The URL isn’t for the faint hearted.



You also have to love these modern retro posters, via BuzzFeed.




Struggling with LinkedIn?



Have pity on those of us with a stationary problem.  For us this is real innovation.

PR Miscellany – January 31st 2010

So you won’t be surprised to find out I’ve been a little behind on my RSS feed reading. It’s been busy recently.

Slipping through the (PR) feeds, it’s interesting to note that probably 90+% of “PR” posts are actually about social media.  Now social media is clearly very important, but to me, the intersection of PR and social media or even business or marketing to social media is far more important.

So what interesting stuff is there this week – at the risk of drawing Valeria’s ire :-) ?

First a surprise, for me at any rate. In the blogs I scanned there is very little commentary on the PR implications of Toyota’s U.S. recall, which I have to say is strange (though I admit I may just have missed some other blogs that did cover it). So kudos to Jon Harmon who has a number of posts covering the developing issue and the company’s response.


It’s amazing just how widely Edelman’s Trust Barometer is quoted in talks, blog posts and meetings.  So we should mark the arrival of this year’s report by linking to Mr. Edelman himself I suppose.

Trust in business has stabilized and is trending upward, with a substantial jump of 18 points in the US (from an all-time low of 36% in 2009 to 54% in 2010). Trust in business falls into three categories (High-Brazil, China, India, Indonesia-at 60-70%; Middle-Canada, Japan, US-at 50-59%; Low-France, Germany, Russia, UK, Korea, -at 35-49%).


Interesting piece from TechCrunch, via Andy Lark, on a recent AOL PR snafu around the departure of the company’s chief technology office.. eh there but for the grace of god…

PR is not supposed to be fiction and spin. At least not all the time. Occasionally the communications professionals at companies, particularly publicly traded companies, are supposed to actually tell the truth. And perhaps help journalists and bloggers with a story instead of sending them off on a fake trail.


I am a firm believer that laughter is indeed the best medicine, so via Stuart Bruce, do watch Charlie Brooker illustrating how to report the news.


Valeria Maltoni has a very worthwhile post on developing a content strategy process for your blog. She also has a very interesting interview with Doc Searls revisiting the Cluetrain Manifesto a decade later.

It’s important to remember that Cluetrain in the first place was an expression of rebellion against marketing, and a declaration of liberation from it. Note the voice in "We are not seats or eyeballs or end users or consumers. We are human beings and our reach exceeds your grasp. Deal with it." We were not speaking there as marketers, or as "the audience," or as "consumers," but as ordinary people.


Finally, Morgan McLintic shares my view that we need to focus on making a difference. Speaking of which I have just added Seth Godin’s Linchpin to my reading list. I’m a fan of Mr. Godin’s constant challenge to people to think differently, but I think he’s come off the boil in his last couple of books so it’ll be interesting to see if this one hits the mark. (I have a hardback copy of the book, but if I was reading it electronically, that would be a Kindle before you ask, and I love my Kindle :-) ).

Tom’s Miscellany – December 8th 2009

A mixed bag of PR and media links…

Changing media consumption habits (and we’re not talking about social media)

Following Jon Snow’s interesting talk about how the media is changing, another venerable TV journalist, this time on the other side of the Atlantic, has shared his views on how the consumption of media is changing.

Speaking at a Poynter Institute for Media Studies event earlier in the week, Ted Koppel bemoaned the trend towards people only watching news and opinions that match their own.

"I think we have gone totally nuts on the issue of entitlement," said Koppel, who spent four decades as the anchor and managing editor of ABC’s Nightline. "We want news that resonates our own pre-held opinions. … That is the worst possible recipe for a country that prides itself in democracy."

More from the St. Petersburg Times.

What’s the impact of new media?

If you live in the UK and Ireland, you know Jon Snow, the popular UK journalist and broadcaster, very well.

During a recent visit to Ireland, the Institute of International and European Affairs hosted Jon for a talk he gave on the impact of new media.

He discusses his start in the media business and just how much things have changed over the years, and it’s not just about social media!

Recommended viewing regardless of your location.

Link courtesy of Piaras Kelly.

PR, Blogging, RSS and Twitter…

Wow, it’s August. I must be getting old, because the weeks, months and years are beginning to fly by.

It’s been quiet on this blog for a while and (in tandem) my RSS reading has been sporadic at best.

Of course I have a defense. I’ve been pretty busy.  Egypt was an experience, and I’ve moved to a new role at Microsoft (Corporate Citizenship since you ask).

Yesterday I installed the latest FeedDemon beta and rediscovered why RSS is such a great way to track news and opinions about anything you’re interested in.

Revisiting your RSS feeds is like re-discovering old friends, it’s fantastic. It’s also interesting to find out there are so many people still talking out the back of their trousers but then that’s one of the great things about the Internet and social media – the diversity.

Couple of posts to consider:

I will be back.

Interesting PR related online things…

Welcome to Friday, we even have sunny weather in this lovely part of the world.

A few things bounced across my browser, RSS reader and e-mail over the past couple of days that I thought I’d share.

Ford – Online Fiesta

Ragan has a really interesting report on Ford’s new US social media project to promote the new Fiesta car.  They undertook an online recruitment program to find 100 “agents” to document their experiences with the new car via social media from Twitter to blogs and YouTube. According to the company they won’t censure the agents’ feedback.



Mashable has published a journalists’ guide to Twitter.

He often puts his questions on Twitter at the start of the day, and then his followers (more than 2,200) help him come up with angles, or chime in with their opinions. Rather than interviewing random people on the street, he’s able to get more targeted feedback from people with relevant life experience.

Tell your own story, your own way..

Not exactly breaking news, but in case you missed it… Chevron decided to address a critical 60 minutes report by going on the offensive.


Another approach to funding online media…

In an environment where publishers (online and offline) are working hard to drive revenue, Seattle’s TechFlash is taking a new option by providing sponsored posts. The posts are clearly flagged as “sponsored”  and have a different colored background from editorial posts (see below) but appear in the “news flow”.  I imagine we’ll see other approaches in the coming year.


Traditional media needs to take ownership of its future

I have always been of the view that while traditional media is clearly under pressure, it is not going away, rather we are seeing a re-balancing of media consumption.

The oft floated idea that traditional media is “dead” and that all media will be ‘user-generated’ is flawed in my opinion because people are busy and therefore want trusted filters on what’s going on in the world. Oh and many of us are inherently lazy.

I believe that the traditional media can find a profitable future in that role, whether its in print, online or over the air waves. 

However, to thrive they need to be focused on adding value to their audience. This can be through news gathering or great opinions and content amongst other things, but trust is absolutely key.

Any ten year old can cut and paste content off the web.

I’ve written about Wikipedia before, but if traditional media are going to lazily do an internet search, cut and paste what they find and publish it as editorial, then maybe the future of traditional media isn’t as healthy as I imagined.

Today I read about how the UK Guardian newspaper included a quote from Wikipedia in an obituary of French composer Maurice Jarre. The only problem was that the quote was made up by a 22 year old student in Dublin and posted online.

Siobhain Butterworth, writing on this snafu for the Guardian pointed out that:

Wikipedia editors were more sceptical about the unsourced quote. They deleted it twice on 30 March and when Fitzgerald added it the second time it lasted only six minutes on the page. His third attempt was more successful – the quote stayed on the site for around 25 hours before it was spotted and removed again.

She adds:

The moral of this story is not that journalists should avoid Wikipedia, but that they shouldn’t use information they find there if it can’t be traced back to a reliable primary source.


While I am a passionate advocate of “social media”, I am equally passionate on our society’s need for a strong traditional media.  However, to survive and thrive, traditional media and journalists needs to take ownership of the value they can offer their readers.

Of course this was just a mistake, and mistakes happen, we’re all human, so let’s not blow it out of proportion, but I think it’s a great reminder of how important it is that traditional media focuses on the value it can deliver.

That “value”, in my humble opinion, isn’t mastering internet search and cut-and-paste.