Doc Searls, co-author of The Cluetrain Manifesto, shares his views on PR recently in a provocative post. His comments apply to others, including journalism. A couple of quotes from his 1992 critique still resonate today:
" The call of the flack is not a grateful one. Almost all casual references to public relations are negative."
" So PR has the biggest PR problem of all: people use it as a synonym for BS. It seems only fair to defend the profession, but there is no point to it. Common usage is impossible to correct. And frankly, there is a much smaller market for telling the truth than for shading it."
" Yet most editors would rather insert a spider in their nose than a press release in their publication. First, no self-respecting editor would let anybody else — least of all a biased source — write a story. Second, press releases are not conceived as stories, but rather as “messages."
" So why does PR persist in practices its consumers hold in contempt?"
" Maybe it is time to do with PR what we do with technology: make something new — something that works as an agent for understanding rather than illusion."
That pretty much sets the table for a serious discussion about the change that's needed for PR to thrive.