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The Media Missed the Point… Again

By: Miriam Fry

There are many opinions in the world about what PR really is, and what PR professionals do on a daily basis. While PR professionals are not evasive about their job duties and generally do not leave room for interpretation, mainstream media outlets are known to cast stones and write PR off as a pointless field. Many newspapers, broadcast news stations and other sectors of the media do not seem to value PR’s real contributions to society.

Keith Trivitt, author of the blog PRBreakfastClub, illustrates this point beautifully with his post “The Media is Missing the Real Story of PR.” Trivitt references a New York Times article that ran Sunday titled “When Publicists Say ‘Shh!’” Before even delving into it, the title alone is enough to make PR practitioners cringe.

First, the Times article concerns celebrity PR which, in actuality, is only a small portion of the industry. Second, the article describes celebrities, namely Charlie Sheen and R&B singer Chris Brown, who do not seem to trust or value their publicists’ advice. Both celebrities have had episodes of rage and violence that put them in a negative light. The article reports that many celebrities’ press agents have tried to silence their clients in an attempt to rehabilitate their images . . . but why should the PR industry as a whole be bashed because a few publicists have celebrity clients who can’t control their images?

For what it’s worth, PR is about putting your best foot forward. But if your client is always putting his foot in his mouth, what is a publicist to do?

The New York Times reporter missed the point on what PR is. Trivitt’s blog notes some positive PR facts that deserve more media coverage, the most important one being the positive role that PR plays in cities’ economic recoveries.

“New York City alone is home to more than 1,000 PR firms that contribute well north of $1 billion annually to the city’s economy,” Trivitt wrote. That is refreshing to hear in a time when economists say that the U.S. is in the worst economic recession since the Great Depression. Trivitt also notes, in spite of a faltering economy, annual spending in the PR industry is on the rise.

Trivitt’s blog does a great job of pointing out what the mainstream media is missing when it reports on PR. Although inevitable articles about outraged celebrities won’t do the PR industry justice, one can only hope that the mainstream media will start to get the point. After all, we can help them put their best foot forward.

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