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Should PR be about selling a product at the expense of the truth?

That’s the question psed by the Gaurdianas it looks at Edelman (registration required, but worth it). Again, I think Richard’s comments are being quite agressively misconstrued:

According to Edelman, we – the PR fraternity – don’t have to worry about journos picking apart our press releases and checking our facts any more. We can counteract negative stories in the press simply by posting the real story on a blog.

What I think Richard meant – or at least what I heard – was that transparency is now available to us in real-time (rather than requiring mediators) – and that we can correct what the media chooses not to check, or correct. This is a pretty cynical piece – pretty much reflecting the tone between PR and Media: “No one has a monopoly on truth and nor should they. As we all know, the truth is relative – even in PR. And the truth is that PRs, just like the journalists who sit on the other side of that information superhighway, are obsessed not so much with The Truth as The Power.” I suspect this is the case more for Media than PR – especially those on the Agency side.

Holmes has a good analysis of the piece:

But more to the point, Borkowski seems to completely misunderstand the blogosphere, which actually does the fact checking job the mainstream media has abandoned. It’s far more difficult to get spin or deception into the blogosphere than it is to get it into the mainstream media. That’s the attraction for someone like Edelman: a medium where everyone gets to ask his or her own questions and make up his or her own mind, rather than being fed a story that a journalist has decided is the absolute truth.

I grew up with the notion of the fouth estate firmly embeded in my mind. 20 years in PR has pretty much eroded any view of the media as 100% independent, 100% professional – think unwavering committment to truth. There are some exceptions – people you’ve got to respect. I’ve equally seen some horrors in th PR side.

What the “fifth estate” – the blogosphere – brings to the table is a balancing of these two competing forces by enabling immediate dialog and distribution of the stuff that matters. It shift power back in favor of the people that care to be informed.

One Response

  1. By Alan VanderMolen on March 27th, 2006 at 8:52 pm

    Disclosure: I am Richard’s colleague responsible for A/P operations. I think the debate needs to turn to discussion. Instead of who holds the ‘high ground’ we should be discussing the creation of a content ecosystem with real-time participation. Many issues around certifiability exist and need to be tackled. We can all learn from last week’s ‘unconference’ in Philadelphia. Ck out posts from Jeff Jarvis at http://www.buzzmachine.com and Dan Gillmor at the Center of Citizen Media.

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