Yesterday I noticed a ProfNet post in which the journalist was seeking experts to comment on when a company shouldn’t write a blog.
Other than the usual reasons — not the least of which is the first-person time commitment required to opine on a subject in which readers actually are interested — I think it’s also important to take the time to explore what others are saying in “the online conversation.” Your RSS reader can only take you so far.
Last night I was doing some exploring and came upon Jeff Jarvis’s assessment of how the new “information architecture” has necessitated a change in the way PR pros need to deal with their new D-t-C powers.
“So this isn’t just about a new ethic of information necessitated by the link and search. It is also about a new form of self-interest for those who say they are in the business of public relations and public information. We’re the public and now we can not only come to you directly, we can penalize you directly when you lie to us.”
Mr. Jarvis’s post is well worth reading, but I found one snarky shortcoming. He insinuates that PR people have dishonesty in their DNA, and it’s the “new ethic of information” that’s curbing their “mission” to “always spin.” I don’t buy it.
Before the myriad bloggers arrived on the scene and before newsmakers had the ability to create and syndicate their own news, companies were inherently honest. If not, they faced the wrath of other stakeholder groups, e.g., consumers, shareholders, employees, unions, NGOs, regulators. They still do. In addition, a PR person’s effectiveness, if not livelihood, was directly related to his honest dealings with the ink-stained filters that stood between him and his audience.
Are PR people today more forthright in their advocacy knowing that some blogger may publicly dissect, discount and disseminate their every word? I’m not so sure. I do know that (the smart) PR people are increasingly encouraging their clients to engage their detractors in dialogue. Mr. Jarvis concludes:
“There is a positive side to this message: Now that you have direct access to your public and now that the public can come directly to you for information, then give it to them completely, honestly, openly, easily. If you have a good product and service, if you treat your customers with respect, then that becomes the best public relations you can have.”
Gee, Jeff, that’s what I thought we’ve been doing all along.