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I consider myself to be a recovering publicist. My work for the past 10 years has been creating and executing strategies to help companies succeed online. Sometimes that includes publicity, but I am no longer a publicist. As anyone who reads my work knows, I feel great disdain about the way 99 percent of PR people practice their craft.
Nothing has changed about ethical PR. It still is, and always will be, a crucial part of the communication mix. There are not enough reporters or bloggers on the planet to uncover all the news, and PR people can be great intermediaries, even in the Internet Age.
So, when I saw the Williams flap surfacing, and learned that Ketchum PR has paid a journalist to talk up the Bush Administration’s policies, I was underwhelmed. (Background in Jay Rosen’s broadside against PR bloggers.)
Companies that try to pass bullshit off as news won’t have an audience for long. They’re fossils. And Ketchum acted like a fossil when it hired Williams. Can you say ClueTrain Mainifesto?
The practice of PR that I pay attention to is not the one whose practitioners are in bed with policitians or journalists.
I am interested in PR people who help companies communicate with the public by finding a compelling angle to their story and presenting it in an interesting and dynamic way.
They don’t need to lie, cheat, or pay off journalists.