Canadian PR professional and dog photography enthusiast Brian A. Kilgore just published a piece in HuffPo Canada advising readers not to “…insult PR people by calling them marketers.”
Given that this is a depressingly common topic of conversation, we figured we’d go through his points. On the common perception of PR:
“PR is multi-faceted, but it’s the publicity and media relations sub-set that most people think of as PR. These PR people are in the news industry, on the content side.”
On working to inform the public:
“‘Editorial and public interest sensibility’ means we in PR do our best to craft honest and non-misleading messages, we believe in ‘the public interest’ as well as ‘of interest to the public’ and many messages are conveyed with the third-party endorsation and the alterations and editing of editors and producers and other controllers of the information conduit.”
On the editorial vs. promotional:
“The words surrounding the ads throughout a newspaper are called editorial…Many but not all of those stories are influenced by PR people like me who work with journalists.”
On honesty the relationship between PR and media:
“No money changes hands between story subject / PR people and journalists…PR people rarely lie, partly because journalists usually look for confirming sources and alternative viewpoints.”
We would say that the industry needs more op-eds like this one, but based on the response many readers see it as yet another case of spinning or whitewashing or shameless self-promotion or whatever you want to call it. As soon as they hear the phrase “public relations” they think of political scandals and big, bad oil companies.
We’ll be looking for future pieces in the series as promised by Mr. Kilgore, though—maybe in the future he’ll be a little more sensitive to those of us who’ve worked in marketing as well?