Should PR and Media Pro’s Offer Opinions?

I was recently contacted by Jess Todd about a particular controversy that I couldn’t help but weigh in on. For the entire encounter you can read over his blog, but in a nutshell he was basically lambasted for offering his opinions on a topic that he happened to know something about, rather than go the standard PR route. Those of you in PR know what I’m talking about, something  happens, or will happen and you send a release, the reporters call and you hand them off to an “expert” of some sort, or occasionally just someone else. Well what Todd did was streamline the process by contacting the media directly and simply stating that ” “as a media consultant, I have thoughts and opinions on the story and am available for interview or quotes.”

A few media outlets took him up on his offer and called him. Others however…went off calling his methods into question, accusing him of dictating what they should print, that it was their job to go find the “news” yada yada yada.

So this brings up a very good question. Is there a more efficient way to do things, some of the time? I have never been one to say that just because we have new methods we have to use them exclusively. However there have been many times when I knew I could make the reporter’s job a hell of a lot easier if I simply contacted them first with ALL the info they would need, rather than require them to have to go on a fishing expedition that they most likely don’t have time for anyway. So many story ideas get dropped for this very reason. Tight deadlines and stiff competition for space/time means that the days of the reporter who does all his or her own pounding of the pavement are long gone. PR professionals are here to help…so let us help. So to get back to the particular situation, which was his commenting on the resignation of Rep. Anthony Weiner, he shot me an email saying he wanted my take on the situation and my response to him was this:

“I think you are actually right on the money. I used to work in-house PR sending out the standard releases and when reporters would call, it was always me putting them in touch with someone else, one more step for them to take, and not because I wasn’t qualified but because that was simply how things were done where I worked. We were PR people, and treated by management as having little value – just get the right people to the reporters. Well, having been in the media business myself, having worked as a social media consultant, I too have an opinion on many subjects. Am I always the best? No. Am I an expert at everything I like to talk about? No. But then I don’t claim to be either. I am simply someone with experience that knows a few things about what is going on in the world, especially if it has to do with social media, PR or wildlife conservation.”

Where is the best place for those of us who have become hybrids at what we do? Is there a time when being efficient becomes overstepping our bounds as PR and Media professionals? Professionally I find nothing wrong with what Todd did or the idea of offering our services straight out whether they be quotes, opinions, whatever help we can provide to reporters so that they can get their job done faster, better and with better quality. Isn’t that after all one of the core responsibilities of public relations?

I applaud Todd for staying on top of the newest methods of breaking through to media. In today’s lighting quick world, when a plane crash is faster tweeted than reported on the six-o-clock news, it is all too important that people like him, people like me even continue the all important work of media and social media research to make sure that the public is always well-informed.

Think I’m wrong? Right? Have your own opinion you’re just dying to share? I welcome your comments.

(image courtesy of PRtalknow.com)

Everyday Public Relations is Going Green!


WARNING: The following post contains some controversial opinions but is not meant to offend. These are simply my thoughts and ideas. Feel free to share your own, and all constructive criticism is welcome as always; but please no unsupported arguments or religious debates. Thanks.

A long time coming, Everyday Public Relations is making some changes. While still focused primarily on PR in our everyday lives, you may begin to notice that more and more posts have a conservation angle to them. You’ll see ideas and tips for those who practice “green” PR as well as helpful social media hints for those in the conservation world.

To better explain this change let me start by telling you that I have these two great passions in life. (I actually have more, but only two relate to my career directly.) I love PR & Communications and I love conservation work. I have been lucky so far in that I get to combine the two on a regular basis. Working for a conservation organization as a public affairs officer has really been the best job I’ve ever had.

I do not however come into the world of conservation as a blind idealist or a hopeless treehugger. My viewpoints on the subject may seem a little extreme, and are hard to define, but I will try, in an effort to help my readers understand the nature of some of my posts.

Here goes: The planet Earth is the greatest evolutionary miracle that man has ever known. “What about people?” you cry. We (humans) are but one species, a blink of an eye on a planet that has seen more change, more wonder than any other that we currently know about. Throughout the studies done to explore space, our final frontier, it has been determined that our home planet is the only one of its kind – and is that way because everything came together so perfectly, at just the right time. Practically the definition of a miracle.

Now whether you attribute this miracle to God, the Big Bang or some other theory is your opinion and not something I care to debate. I do not judge and do not care for those who do.

Humans will not be around forever. Sad, I suppose but true. Eventually the Earth will die, as everything that exists and has ever exists does. It is an unavoidable truth-the planet’s lifespan will one day conclude.

Now that we are all depressed thinking about the end of the world let me say this. The timing of that inevitable event depends largely on our treatment of this blue and green world we call home. This is what I want to change.

I love this planet, down to its smallest bugs. I’m fascinated by life. To that end I want to share the wonder I experience on a daily basis with as many people and future generations as I can. I want my kids, grandkids, great-grandkids and so forth to know the simple joy of a summer night listening to a chorus of frogs; the majestic imposing beauty of the Rocky Mountains; the frozen seemingly endless oceans of the south pole with so much life teeming underneath the ice; the intracacies of a mountain bog’s eco-system and the awe of a fire rushing across a prairie-renewing life from its ashy wake. I could go on, but I think you get the point.

There is not a ton of money in conservation work or what has been dubbed “green pr” by some. Often you work long hours for little pay, much of your efforts being difficult and thankless. If you don’t love it, or have some greater calling, you burn out fast. It is demanding and despite the growing green movement, often your audience is stubborn, set in their ways. money driven or simply indifferent, which is the worst of all.

So…that being said, and I know I’ve gone on a good while now, my blog is changing, I think for the better. I want to really reach out to those who are using their PR and communications skills for more than just to make a profit. If I can help those working for a better world via PR and social media then I have been successful. There will still be solid tips on using public relations, and social media in the new world of work, there will simply be the added component of using what I know to help others help the planet…for as long as it remains our home.

Hope you stick around and join the conservation. I look forward to your comments.

An Ethical Dilemma

If you work in public relations then sooner or later you will confront this issue. You know the one I mean where you have to decide whether your job is worth the flak you receive over a decision that was made way above you but has filtered down the line until finally you are the one who must “handle” the negative fallout.

I like to think I am an ethical person. I believe that the best policy in most cases is honesty. I do concede that there are some situations where you have a need to know situation and the general public simply does not need to know, but for 99% of the issues I deal with, honesty is always the best policy.

Therefore it was a little upsetting to be dealing with the negative press surrounding a decision that way predates my employment, by more than a year.

The field of public relations has received so much grief lately that I hesitate to add any more fuel to the fire….but there are times when you have to stand your ground and stand up for the principles you believe in. (At least until you reach your breaking point)

I was asked to write a release about a breaking news situation at work. A situation that resulted from a decision made by some nameless suit way before I ever came along. The issue at hand was one that got a ton of people (read activists) fired up. A few years ago I would have been on the front lines with them protesting the absurdity of the situation but now…well lets just say I have a better understanding of the issues and can clearly see both sides. I am not saying that my understanding makes things right or wrong, just that I am more informed than the average greenpeace’er.

So I have been answering media calls, responding with our standard response, all the while feeling pretty crappy about what I was saying.

So where do you draw the line?

When do your personal ethics have to supersede your loyalty to your employer?

I guess I still don’t know.

Maybe I am a sell out…maybe I just realize that I have a family of four counting on me to bring home a paycheck, but I didn’t once cross the line and mix my personal feelings with the “Official” stand of my organization. I did it. This time.

I can honestly say that I won’t do it forever. There will come a day when I say, I have had enough and just walk away. Until then…

Don’t judge me. We are all guilty of selling out at some point, (regardless if you admit or not)and until you reach that point, you have no idea what it feels like.

“Forever trust in who we are, and nothing else matters…”

Got a comment. I’d like to hear it.

An Ethical Dilemma

If you work in public relations then sooner or later you will confront this issue. You know the one I mean where you have to decide whether your job is worth the flak you receive over a decision that was made way above you but has filtered down the line until finally you are the one who must “handle” the negative fallout.

I like to think I am an ethical person. I believe that the best policy in most cases is honesty. I do concede that there are some situations where you have a need to know situation and the general public simply does not need to know, but for 99% of the issues I deal with, honesty is always the best policy.

Therefore it was a little upsetting to be dealing with the negative press surrounding a decision that way predates my employment, by more than a year.

The field of public relations has received so much grief lately that I hesitate to add any more fuel to the fire….but there are times when you have to stand your ground and stand up for the principles you believe in. (At least until you reach your breaking point)

I was asked to write a release about a breaking news situation at work. A situation that resulted from a decision made by some nameless suit way before I ever came along. The issue at hand was one that got a ton of people (read activists) fired up. A few years ago I would have been on the front lines with them protesting the absurdity of the situation but now…well lets just say I have a better understanding of the issues and can clearly see both sides. I am not saying that my understanding makes things right or wrong, just that I am more informed than the average greenpeace’er.

So I have been answering media calls, responding with our standard response, all the while feeling pretty crappy about what I was saying.

So where do you draw the line?

When do your personal ethics have to supersede your loyalty to your employer?

I guess I still don’t know.

Maybe I am a sell out…maybe I just realize that I have a family of four counting on me to bring home a paycheck, but I didn’t once cross the line and mix my personal feelings with the “Official” stand of my organization. I did it. This time.

I can honestly say that I won’t do it forever. There will come a day when I say, I have had enough and just walk away. Until then…

Don’t judge me. We are all guilty of selling out at some point, (regardless if you admit or not)and until you reach that point, you have no idea what it feels like.

“Forever trust in who we are, and nothing else matters…”

Got a comment. I’d like to hear it.