PR “vs” journalism is a load of BS

**note: all of the ideas on this site are mine and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer**

Hi again. So if you happen(ed) to take 5-10 minutes and read the links to the right, you might wonder why so dramatic? Well, humans have always been addicted to drama, so there’s that. But ironically it comes down to these “professional communicators” doing bad jobs at communicating. So here are some of my thoughts on the never-ending drama between PR and journalism:

-I like reading and communicating, and I believe in the businesses with which I work. If these premises are all true, then I don’t understand how my job is anything less than meaningful and relevant.

-Some folks in PR are bad. So naturally, just like anything, there is a bad version of this job. There are also bad journalists. Like how there are bad quarterbacks and bad pitchers in professional sports. I mean, there’s no reason people “should” be “bad” (especially when they’re being paid millions of dollars), but somehow it still happens. There are bad apples everywhere you go! Sorry to break this astonishing news to you.

-Story is the most important thing. It’s not the most important thing “for a business” or “for the journalist”. It’s literally just a standalone important thing for everyone, and everyone should be working toward that same goal of telling a good story.

-The story is indicative of the “PR result.” I have numerous examples of when the story had to be really hashed out in order to be relevant (duh) and pitched to a very specific writer relevant to the angle (double duh), which ended in an article that actually mattered to both sides (ideal result). This has happened with no “Rolodex” relationship prior, and with writers who really found it interesting. They grilled the company explaining the launch (as they should) and found a story that did matter to their beat. On the client-side, the article led to results that mattered to them. So, yes. There is an impact on both sides – PR and news -when done right.

-Many of the suggestions by folks like former TechCrunch editor Mike Arrington are valid. I mean, why wouldn’t good suggestions be good? I agree with you, man. If you think there’s still a rift, then you’re making it up. But I don’t agree to this one: “why don’t companies just get cut out the ‘middle man’?” To this I’d say: isn’t that just moving the potential “problem” in-house? The problem in my mind is: BAD people doing BAD PR work. Crappy people who don’t care about what matters: stories, the writers who write them, and the places those stories go. People who don’t ‘push back’ on clients who chomp at the bit for that next “piece of coverage” (which is lame) without understanding what that even means. A CEO has about zero time to do a ton of other stuff for his or her (OK, mostly his) start-up, and might not even be thinking about anything more than engineering. Whether the person ‘charged with’ getting in touch with media is in-house or three blocks away in SoMa at a firm, they should still be sincere and good at what they’re supposed to do. Otherwise, it’s just same shit/differing pile.

-I don’t see the process as so divided as the bitching and whining makes it out to be between two “sides.” Basically, to me it works like this: companies produce information. Sometimes the information is scooped and discovered through one part of the journalistic process, and sometimes it’s self-selected because a company thinks, “Hey this is neat. And no one would know how neat it is unless we told them because of that whole tree-falling-in-a-forest thing. So we should tell people who might care.” So they go about trying to tell the people. Sometimes they hire another human being to do this because “they” (the CEOs) are busy engineering, coding, bizdeving and VCing and they just need an extra set of hands.

-The embargo debate will never end, but my $.02 is simply: they make sense when you just want everyone to be on the same playing field with a new product or piece of information, so writers and editors can simply do what they will. They don’t make sense when a certain writer or site is more relevant to the news and the better decision would be to go deeper with one person.

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