Click above to hear UK journalist and author Nick Davies lambast today’s commercial media as passive processors of PR puff, led by the nose by powerful corporate PR influences. As well as aiming a kick at flacks, hack Nick echoed points I’ve previously made in my ‘Public Relations Disasters’ book. Particularly he explained how the death of the deadline has further depleted the resources of ‘time-pressed, deadline-stressed’ journalists. ‘Churnalism’ was the keyword of Nick’s interview with ABC’s Kerry O’Brien.
And against a backdrop of all powerful PRs and depleted newsrooms what does news org Fairfax do? Scythes its staff by 550 jobs, including 100-plus losses from its editorial complement. PR’s rejoice!! More potential success for thinly-disguised advertorials surely?
National Australia Bank has distanced itself from a PR consultancy (p’raps Cox & Inall), which attempted to spam post commercial messages on several leading Aussie sports blogs. Local SEO practitioner Jim Stewart tele-interviewed NAB PR Felicity Glennie Holmes who asserted that ‘this activity was poorly executed by our PR agency”. Jim Stewart primarily challenged Felicity on corporate spamming & the ethics of placing covert NAB ads disguised as blog posts. Felicity kinda defended her employers decision.
Interesting note to PR practitioners; be wary of responding to a blog query. As you would with a journo query, ask if they plan to broadcast your communication and if you’re uncomfortable with their response, decide if you wanna participate (or not). For eg: Jim Stewart conducts his interview with Felicity, filming himself for vodcast, and putting her on speakerphone – his body language, facial expressions and other non-verbal silently ‘spin’ his take on her responses. Judging by Jim’s raised eyebrows in his vodcast of the telecon, he couldn’t quite believe what he was hearing from FGH.
I’ve called Cox Inall to see if they were involved and if so, to hear their side of the story. Someone called ‘Killingly’ is supposed to contact me; after almost 18hrs, am still awaiting any call or email. Agency head Tim Powell left a voice mail for me around 9am and is happy to speak to me later today…stay tuned.
Over on his blog, Richard Edelman generously shares some of the most compelling new insights from a recent bigwig conflab about social media (ta Richard):
1) Media must become comfortable with the economics of fragmentation
2) Advertising will be the primary revenue source for media, not subscriptions
3) News will become the supporting element to products and services
4) Major disconnects as newsrooms continue to separate digital and print products
5) The skill set for journalists must evolve
6) Evolution towards an open dialogue model
7) Content is still king and mainstream media amplifies new media content
Social media requires a continuing dialogue
9) Blogs are not universally popular; bulletin boards and mobile work too
Last week at the Frocomm PR summit, a Sydney journalism luminary proclaimed that 80% of PRs were rubbish, inferring not-so-subtly that PR was better off for the defection of many ex-hacks (incl himself). “Why then,” I challenged him, “do so many PR disasters seem to be created by ex-journos, eh?” (I cited Colin Gibson’s Svengate debacle and several others). The new PR saviour conceded I had a point. For good measure, I sharply reminded him that PR was about much more than media relations, too!!
In the UK’s Guardian another fence-jumper, Daniel McCrystal talks about the rise in journo defections to PR citing:
It’s not just for the money
PR is more fun than journalism
Journos are fed-up with newsroom cost-cutting
PR isn’t really as duplicitous as it’s made out to be
Seems not all Aussie editors are enamoured by the multi-layered social media release stylee!!
This month’s (Australia) Marketing magazine features a survey of several top editors advising press agents/publicists how to pitch/present stories. This snippet of sageliness acts as a free teaser on the Marketing mag blog:
“If you send a press release, make sure that I can get as much information from it as possible without having to click on attachments, follow links or make phone calls for more information.
A rather irritated editor slates ‘ PR persistence’ saying:
“Probably the thing that annoys me most about PR and marketing types is when they try to tell me they know my audience better than I do. I have a limited amount of time and a busy job, and someone pestering me in hopes theyâ€™ll convince me to cover something I donâ€™t think my readers will be interested in can only do themselves, and their clients, a disservice.
My fave New Zealand PR insider (Kelle) pokes us towards a TV report that shows how Olympic torch relay skittishness has spread to New Zealand. When TV show Campbell Live tried to interview a kiwi torch carrier to see if/how the Tibetan protests were affecting him, the PR’s got a wee bitty uptight. This national TV segment shows how N.B.P.R. insisted that interview questions were sent to them in advance (sensible enough) but that they wanted time to ‘coach’ Aaron on how to answer these questions (too much disclosure guys??), and that a live personal interview was outta the question. Oh, and just before the TV company sent a film crew to visit Aaron, N.B. PR called to say their client (Samsung – who sponsor the torch relay I think) was too nervous to let any interview go ahead; Great national (and web) publicity for Samsung and its kiwi PR team eh?
Talk about stamping on a man’s grave before he’s cold in the ground; Gawker gleefully reports how BM’s PR supremo got chucked outta the Clinton campaign (which incidentally culls aides faster than China does with Tibetan dissidents). Why did Mark Penn depart? Most commentators agree it was his PR consultancy interests, which saw him meet with the Colombian government with a view to representing them on the opposite side of an issue from Hillary Clinton, while running her campaign. Conflict of interest anyone? Sterling judgement from an expert in impression management? A salutory lesson for any ‘big’ client; is your adviser too big to represent you? After all, when the consultant (and his other interests) becomes the story, it can eclipse your goals and reflect poorly on your reputation, too.
Oh, and as Gawker happily reports, Penn and BM also dropped the ball with the Columbians too, who were none too happy with the publicity, either.
But a wee word to Gawker; many decent PR practitioners disagree with your description of the…”PR industry, which is definitively one big amoral hired gun.” Tsk, tsk. That’s like saying all journos are delusional hacks that play decorative second fiddle to a revenue-driven media model based on advertising expenditure. Doh!!