In Which We Consider Business Insider’s ‘Top 50 Tech PR Pros’ List

It’s safe to say that this week’s story about the Business Insider CTO with a penchant for offending everyone in sight on Twitter didn’t help raise the company’s public profile.

Yesterday, however, brought the publication of BI’s “50 best PR people in the tech industry” listicle, which is a different sort of animal altogether. Rather than mock the PR discipline at large, BI took the opportunity to credit to 50 people doing it the right way in the tech field.

Of course any such list is inherently arbitrary, and we’re not familiar with most of the names on this one, though we can personally vouch for Brian S. Gross, John McCartney of WISE PR and Krista Canfield of LinkedIn. That said, here’s what we like about the post: every member of this crowd of 50 is doing his or her part to promote not just a client brand but the PR practice in general—and we could always use a little more good press.

We reached out to some of our contacts for comment on the list and encountered a common theme.

Integrated Communications Consultant Jeremy Pepper writes:

Lists like these are great, as many people deserve recognition for their hard work. I know about 20 percent of the people on the list, and consider many of them friends. At the same time, PR used to be such a behind the curtain, “no one knows who we are” industry that you have to wonder if social has hyper elevated people to push for their own personal agendas.

It was interesting in that I saw a handful of people from the same firm. Lists like this are nice for the people that deserve it, but at the same time, it totally misses others that are rock stars. But we all know who they are, because we’ve worked with them at some point in our careers.

Since this list was also based on nominations from media, it’s nice to see that media relations is still a part of PR.

Another contact in the tech PR field was a bit more critical:

I wonder if these are lists of journalists’ favorite PR people to work with or PR people who do the best work for their clients. There are a lot of big name clients on there, but what about the firms that support start-ups and midsize challengers? Either way, it’s nice to see the industry acknowledged and respected on a list that’s chock full of smart women.

The contact’s point, of course, is that startups face a much steeper climb toward media recognition than, say, Google or Facebook or Apple (which appear several times on this list) and that PR professionals at smaller, more specialized firms are less likely to appear on such slideshows no matter how talented they happen to be. That’s not to downplay any of the hard work done by the 50 names chosen, but no such list can truly measure, with any level of objectivity, who is better at his or her job.

We’re left asking ourselves: does a list like this one reflect an industry that places greater value on self-promotion and personal branding in the social/digital age? If so, is it healthy to bring PR into the spotlight, or does this newfound exposure change the nature of the discipline altogether?