The weblog Jossip, a gossipy, crass site that strives to be the vaunted Gawker, ran a post that perpetuates some of the worst clichés about the public relation profession. The writer’s assertion is that since newspapers are laying off reporters or shuttering their doors, promising J-school students are eschewing the lofty calling of journalism for the bright lights and dirty money of the PR profession.
Penned by what could only be a recent — and almost certainly unemployed — J-school graduate named Drew, the piece plays many of the old saws about the practice of PR:
The problem, of course, is that PR represents all that is despised by the press: duplicity, glad-handing and vague comments about their clients that shield that nugget of truth every journalist works to find.
It’s difficult to quote more of the post because it is peppered with pointless vulgarities. Obviously, the kid has never really been a reporter because he would know better than to paint —or in this case slime — us all with the same brush. And as a former reporter and editor, I know what the truth is like on both sides of the editorial desk.
At this agency, we don’t do “spin,” and we’ve managed to build a good reputation and rapport with the journalists with whom we work. We do that by having an instinct for what’s news and what’s fluff, for never lying to a journalist and by understanding what journalists need to do their jobs.
Andy Newman says that our first job is to serve the media; our second task is to serve our clients. Now that might sound bass-ackward, as my mother would say, but it makes perfect sense. If you can gain the trust and even — grudging, perhaps — respect of the media by being an effective and responsive communicator, that will go far toward enabling you to communicate effectively for your clients.
Of course, we don’t bother with immature, potty-mouthed weblogs like Jossip who rely on f-bombs and poopy words for snarky effect — our clients don’t need them and neither do we.