In The Guardian this week, major headline op-ed creating a lot of discussion in the PR world: “More PRs and fewer journalists threatens democracy”, and complaining about how “Journalists are deluged with press releases that often amount to “oven-ready copy.” The author says: “What we’re talking about here, as we chart the rise of PR and the simultaneous decline of journalism, is an assault on democracy.”
Self-created content is on the rise, and PR Agencies will continue creating content to reach consumers directly without a filter.
As I say in “For Immediate Release”: “Everyone with a smartphone, a Facebook page, or a Twitter account can “report” from the street, the boardroom, or the PTA meeting. It’s complete chaos out there. Getting noticed is both easier and more difficult than it used to be. The right of entry used to be via blue chip birthright, a degree from journalism school, an internship at a newspaper, or an apprenticeship with scrappy newsmen, but no more. The barn door is open, and all the animals have cell phones with cameras.
From civilians on the streets of the Middle East filming a revolution, to bar-goers recording former Dior designer John Galliano’s racist comments, to reporter/prankster James O’Keefe orchestrating a cozy meeting between NPR execs and phony radical donors, to mommy bloggers deciding which juice box or diaper maker gets a time-out, broad swaths of the population are creating publicity by taking their thoughts and opinions and sharing them with the world.”
“The right of entry used to be via blue chip birthright, a degree from journalism school, an internship at a newspaper, or mentorship with scrappy newsmen, but no more. The barn door is open and all the animals have cell phones with cameras.”
Frankly, I don’t know what’s stopping Nike or Johnson & Johnson from starting eponymous media machines. For huge companies like these, the costs would be low and staffing needs minimal. Then companies could talk about the world as they see it, and frame the debate in terms of issues they care about, from their points of view. For example, Johnson & Johnson’s community site for parents, www.babycenter.com, is so well trafficked some publishing executives have said it accounts for a large part of the decline in sales of actual parenting magazines.
Many smart, forward-thinking companies have bloggers and editors on staff, writing content for websites that look much like magazines. So what if some of these companies lose money on such ventures? It may be well worth the expense to get their controlled message out to the public.
The United States has an advantage in that the ruling class (including big business) doesn’t have as much unrestricted power as it does in other countries. As long as average people have access to publishing, printing, and broadcasting, independent voices can and will be heard. No matter how reporting and technology changes the way news is delivered, news and feature stories will continue to be written, and readers will continue to look for information—and they know how to find it. That’s an advantage to upstarts and young companies who want a place at the table. The digital world means they can bring their own utensils and dig in. Still, since we’re all members of the chattering class now, the question is—how do we use the raucous, uncontrollable public discourse to our advantage?”