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PR Practioners Don't Think Up Stories: My Response to Mail Online Story

I read the Mail Online story “Insider reveals: PR men would think up a story and Rebekah’s Sun and News of the World would run it word for word. Some were complete fiction” (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2013046/Rebekah-Brooks-Sun-News-World-run-fictional-stories-insider-claims.html) and was pretty much disgusted as a former journalism student and more so as a seasoned PR practitioner.

Clearly the story was fired with the passion of a disgruntled employee but despite this fact I took issue with the salacious depiction of the field of public relations. I take issue with the suggestion that we in the profession ‘think up’ stories. Yes writing is a big part of what we do, but to say we sit and dream up stories for clients shows a total disregard and lack of respect for the profession. Professional Code of Ethics governs the way the majority of professionals work on a daily basis. Both PRSA (http://www.prsa.org/aboutprsa/ethics/) and IABC (http://www.iabc.com/about/code.htm) have these codes prominent on their websites.

Every PR practitioner knows that clients, even the best-schooled ones, judge how effective we are on our ability to get releases into mainstream media. PR newswires would go out of business if this was not a very important part of what we do. Thank God for the Internet news, which saves our jobs regularly by making our stories viral. I visited a PR website this week that guaranteed releases are published (a very bold claim). From the Daily Mail article I guess that Matthew Freud’s Freud Communications can also make that claim. But who for a PR agency would not love to be in that position. I think that the story missed the boat by putting PR behind bars when obviously it is the Sun and News of the World Chief Executive Rebekah Brooks that appears to be the one guilty of defrauding journalism.

I was fortunate to attend Shel Holtz presentation at the recent IABC conference in San Diego and he referred to industry journalism and companies hiring seasoned journalists to write articles on their products, readily available on websites, real high quality material. I reject the notion that all stories coming out of an organization is corporate powder puff. Yes no one writes deliberate negative stories on themselves but why does a story always have to be negative to be news worthy?

At IABC-Barbados’ last professional development event we had a team of top journalists from Barbados discussing the topic “Journalists and PR Practitioners: Kissing Cousins or Mortal Enemies”. Editor-In-Chief, Roy Morris of Barbados’ only online newspaper, Barbados Today put it succinctly – PR practitioners have a role and journalist have a role and it is up to both to ensure at the end of the day that they work together but remain true their individual professions.

Leave PR out of this story. What the lady in question did had nothing to do with PR, why should we as PR practitioners be the fall guys for opportunists?



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