Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The "R" word... again?

Once again, the issue of PR's reputation rears its ugly head. Astoria Communications posted on it yesterday, and several AEJMC convention papers (check out the titles of papers 58 and 59 in the session 109 here for two examples) looked at it earlier this month.

My questions: Why should anyone hold PR in high regard when industry news is all about astroturfing, pay for play, fake news, and overbilling? And, how could an outsider understand PR as anything but "sales" or "spin" when that's how it's consistently reported on (another AEJMC paper on New York Times coverage, session O52, here)? The people involved may be industry outliers, but it's a rare news story that covers the wonderful pro bono work someone did for a good cause. Media effects research demonstrates pretty clearly that news impacts public perceptions especially strongly when audiences have no personal experience with the issue or people being covered. The average person doesn't have counsel. So what they know is what they see in news coverage.

The way to clean up PR's image is not to run a PR campaign--who would believe it? It's to clean up the industry, outliers and all.

Update: Trevor Cook says here what I was trying to say, only much better.

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"More important than the curriculum is the question of the methods of teaching and the spirit in which the teaching is given" --Bertrand Russell

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