The Churnalism debate continues with analysis from Richard Sambrook from PR agency Edelman:
Good PR is less about spin and cover ups and more about advocacy and transparency- from which some news organisations could learn. I’m asked by old colleagues, “So what terrible deeds have you had to cover up then?”. The truth of course is that “covering-up” or deceit is the worst advice to offer anyone, with a high probablilty of discovery and consequent reputational damage proven time and again. If anyone has something that needs covering up they don’t have a communications issue – they have a business issue. And spin or deceit corrodes the trust and relationships on which influence is built.
David Cameron defended his director of communications, Andy Coulson this morning on Radio 4, refusing to comment on speculation that Coulson had offered his resignation after mounting pressure over the News of the World phone-hacking scandal.
I think there is a danger at the moment that he is being punished twice for the same offence … I gave him a second chance, I think in life sometimes its right to give a second chance.
Presenter John Humphrys pressed the prime minister on the rumours of a resignation offer but he refused to comment: “I don’t go into private conversations.”
Interesting post from PR professional Valeria Maltoni about “braided journalism” – the “practice of traditional and citizen journalists starting to intertwine through mutual need” – asking if this is the future of public relations.
Maltoni discusses an experiment by computer manufacturer Dell, which involves freelance journalists as part of a new website. Brands embedding journalists, she says, could be extremely beneficial to consumers and businesses:
The impact of journalists and reporters would be felt in a number of ways:
integrating the point of view of a third party lends additional credibility to the business;
presenting a more complete version than the one quote, sometimes taken out of context, in trade press;
bringing more customer and non-customer voices to the conversation;
including more representatives of the whole ecosystem the business operates in;
adding a needed perspective from researchers and domain experts.
Andy Mabbett has an interesting post on his pigsonthewing blog about the difficulties surrounding open data for councils and subsequent media interpretations and reports.
Giving an example of grant funding and council spending, where conditions may involve money being spent on certain forms of advertising, he adds that often this is misinterpreted by some members of the press, unaware of the attached conditions or other related spending on important projects involved. As a result, the headlines focus on what appears to be unusual spending.
As a supporter of the principles of open public data, he says a solution needs to be found.
What can council’s do to prevent this scenario? Annotate every spend item in their published data? Surely impractical. List such items separately? I don’t know (and don’t get me wrong, I’m an open-data advocate; and this is a relatively minor matter, which shouldn’t stop such data from being published), but do I hope somebody has an answer.
The relationship between journalist and PR officer is one of the most valuable – but often one of the most difficult – to foster and maintain in the media world. But there are often valuable lessons to be learnt from understanding the tensions on both sides.
PRWeek decided to let its deputy features editor Kate Magee find out what these could be, by setting up a job swap with Bite Communications‘ account executive Mat Gazeley. They would spend a week in each others shoes, documenting their experiences and hopefully learn a trick or two for dealing with the “other side” in the future.
Speaking to Journalism.co.uk after the swap, PRWeek’s Kate – now safely back in the world of journalism – said life on “the dark side” was not such a far cry from the newsroom as people may think.
There were actually more similarities than I had expected. Throwing around ideas in a brainstorming session was my favourite part of the job. I found it similar to my role as a journalist; working out what is interesting about a topic and translating this into something that will engage an audience. The work was also a far more collaborative process than journalism, with team members reporting back on which calls they’d made and even what was said. In my role, I am quite independent, coming up with ideas and being able to run with them myself. As a journalist there is also a far greater individual pressure to hit deadlines. The blank print page or online space is waiting, and you have to fill it. As a PR, it felt like more of a group effort.
But for journalist Kate, the pride of a byline still draws her back to the day-job.
I won’t change my approach dramatically, but I will have greater empathy for a PR trying to find out whether a story will be used or not. But certainly for now, I still want my own name, not my client’s name, at the top of an article.
Watch an interview with Kate and Mat below, courtesy of PRWeek’s video podcast produced by markettiers4dc.
Computer Weekly’s Mark Kobayashi-Hillary looks at the use of Twitter by trade journalists and trade PRs – or, more specifically, some trade PRs’ reluctance to take advantage of the communication tool.
If your focus is on a list of topics, and the writers at a group of specific titles, then what could possibly work better than having a window on what they are saying about their stories?
This works both ways – how many trade hacks really pay attention to the sea of press releases anymore when they can talk directly to the people they are writing about?
Some PR agencies have realised this. There are many now with strong digital and social expertise, but there are so many that are just riding on an existing contract. They will ultimately die out through natural selection
PRWeek’s deputy feature editor Kate Magee has swapped places with a PR officer for a week to see what life is like on the so-called “dark side”.
Magee is working at Bite Communications and is blogging her experiences from the other side of the equation. It’s a light-hearted, but interesting look at some of the inate differences and similarities between the two industries.
‘An Inconvenient PR Truth’ aims to reduce “the pollution of journalist, blogger and publisher inboxes” by cutting PR spam with a list of recommendations for the industry.
The initial suggestions by the group included a ‘Bill of Rights’ on the campaign’s website, includes obtaining permission from recipients before sending press releases and not making a follow-up call to a journalist after sending a release.
The group has now created a second survey building on the initial launch document and wants responses from journalists, writers, communication professionals and bloggers to ascertain more information about:
Who is most affected by the issue of unwanted PR and press releases?
What are the main sources of the problem?
What is the impact on media recipients, in terms of time wasted?
[T]he survey is only going to be of any value if we get lots of responses. To date any exercise (that we are aware of) that has tried to quantify and analyse this problem has been limited by the small number of respondents anyone has been able to achieve on their own. We hope that with the help of the PR and Media communities we can get a huge response so that the data can provide an accurate insight into the issue once and for all.