Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Public relations for Public relations

what's the first thing you think of when you think of the public relations practitioner? that he/she is a lying, sniveling rat that fluffs every piece of news and doctors the spin making the media untrustworthy?

i dare say that this is only a fraction of the actual practitioners in the world today, and is only a stereotype borne by popular culture. and yet, the voices of those of us who practice the art and science of public relations is rarely heard, save for those of us who bother to read what's out there. and if you're reading the brilliant thoughts of some of our peers, you'll think twice about labeling PR people.

traditionally, public relations existed best when it was not seen, just like a film editor, you don't see the hundred thousand cuts in a montage of film. it's the art of putting things together coherently so it makes sense.

without public relations, most news would not be reported on (yes, we feed stories to journalists, not just to barrage the news with information about our clients, but there is a lack of journalists, and i'd like to think that a good press release helps a journalist. unfortunately, this can be quite rare.)

i'm not going to paint a pretty picture of the game, if you want to see the distillation of news as a manipulative gesture, i cannot convince you otherwise, but just imagine without the media, most information would be unfiltered, and how could you tell fact from fiction?

the ideal is that journalists report the unbiased truth, and the PR practitioner presents the unbiased truth. it's not being done per se, but PR practitioners have ethics too.. and more than ever, we'll need to be accountable and transparent to the public

all because of the new age of media, social media.

journalists aren't just the ones asking questions, the public is. and journalists aren't just the only ones publishing now, the public is, and the PR practitioner and their clients are. in this increased age where any amateur writer can post their thoughts to the worldwide web, it becomes more of a media literacy skill to decide what's fact and what's fiction.

my desire, is to see people contributing to the web being accountable to their publics. if its not meant for public eyes, lock it up. or don't publish it, write it in a journal somewhere. fiction for entertainment's purpose is of course a marvel, but lying to unscrupulous gain, that's what social media has finally caused media people (journalists, content producers, PR practitioners) to be accountable to the very thing we learnt in our textbooks, the public.

but sometimes i have not so much faith in the publics. i go to youtube, and see violent flame wars, name-calling, cowards hiding behind the mask of anonymity just to say something in self-defence.. people being so close-minded while claiming to be open-minded. just believing everything the first 10 results of google and wikipedia. it is the age of instant information, and less and less ensuring of credible sources.

maybe one day we'll catch up, and instant knowledge will give way to instant wisdom. but that's a long time coming i reckon, for now.. i hope we can educate one another to give and take a little in the online space. our avatars are ourselves as gods on the cyberspace. nobody disagrees with our point of view, and nobody knows what to believe in anymore, except what we say of ourselves, and our peers, and our interests.

so before shooting the PR practitioner off as someone who lies and manipulates, just remember, you are doing your own PR, and quite possibly not even aware of it, making you that much more dangerous.

1 comment:

uniquefrequency said...

Great post. I think another issue is how Singapore is still a little "backwards" in terms of "getting" social media, at least in the PR sense of engaging consumers in a conversation