Public relations and journalism: 2 sides, same shekel

A friend with Paladin just forwarded me a fun story on tech public relations.I really liked it, and could relate to the writer Marco Greenberg not just because I worked with another member of the founding team at Akamai (Robert Ball), but also because Marco used a metaphor I find compelling: the light.

He says:

No wonder there is a diaspora of journalists turning in their press passes to join PR firms. In just the last month several have become marketers – most notably Fake Steve Jobs. They have gone over “to the dark side,” as you journalists call it (others in my industry might say “seeing the light”) for better salaries and perceived job security, both of which are sorely lacking in journalism today.

I say, that shining light is called changing the world by story. It’s an altar both journalists and publicists bow to on their way to battle. One may be working on assignment, and the other on retainer, but at the end of the day, my experience is the best champions of both are true believers in the power of an authentic story to free the world from ignorance.

I’d like to call Pax Publica on the tired battlefield between PR and press. We’ve been winning back the same 20 yards of truth from each other for far too long.  And why?

In the system we all inherited, the money used to flow through media as advertising. Journalists were the vanguard of the fourth estate, protecting freedom of press, truth and life changing information.  That system is broken now.

Now, who says publicists can’t do that too? We do. We certainly do at Write2Market. We’re not perfect, but our clients are among the world’s finest tech and energy companies you haven’t heard near enough about yet.  And heck yeah, we’re trying to change that. Our clients are heroes, plain and simple. They want to make the world a better place. And we’re trying to do our best to be Merlins to their King Arthurs, and enchant a warring kingdom by telling true stories of enchantment, change and metamorphosis. The world is changing. We’re singing the songs.

While I haven’t heard many ballads sung to PR people in my life time, I have to believe there are many public relations companies out there who appreciate their power, like we do at Write2Market, and also use it for good. Did I say good? Good, I meant good. Good, as in—good.

It was just last week I was sitting with the president of another public relations agency, this time out of Tampa.  We talked about how critical it is to work for the right clients. Not all clients. Not clients. The RIGHT clients.

Because at the end of the day, there’s only one sun shining. You’re either in the light or the shadow. But no one owns the light—it’s called stories that change the world for the better. Today, publicists sing ballads of the great battles in business as often—or more often—than many journalists, who can be are beat into blathering by google rankings, click throughs, and truly punishing production schedules.  Just as PR people can be.

The best PR people protect beautiful stories and real reputations today as much as today’s best journalists.  Not all PR people and not all journalists will even understand this post—but that tribe that does, hats off to you. Very, very white hats off.

You that don’t understand this post—I remain positive about your future. Find the light.

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