At the beginning of the week, I read about Sarah Leibowitz who is an account coordinator at Sparkpr* in New York. Sarah had sent an email to Valleywag on behalf of client Paltalk who had been mentioned in Edward Snowden’s PRISM slide deck. Sarah mentioned this in her email introduction and the Valleywag journalist dissected her pitch so that the whole of the PR industry and the technology sector could read it. I imagine it’s going to take a good while for Sarah’s personal SEO campaign to bury this article.
As an industry we trust the core part of our value proposition to the most junior people often without the necessary oversight and coaching to prevent these kind of mistakes. It is not intentional, client demands and new business pitches get in the way of the best intentions: most of the time we get away with it. Show me an experienced PR person that hasn’t made a potentially embarrassing mistake at any time in their career and I will show you a liar.
We sell influence: by influencing influential people, be they bloggers, journalists, editors, researchers or DJs. Reputation management is an outcome of this process, strategy is the management of the process: neither are the core value we provide. Ms. Leibowitz is likely to have been a casualty of an industry trying to run ever faster.
Moving forward to this morning I read about David Monagan writing for Forbes who made a grovelling apology for calling Irish president Michael D. Higgins an “acknowledged homosexual”. Mr Monagan in his apology talks about having never made a mistake like that in his 35 years as a journalist; the mistake came about due to a tight deadline. It then went through the Forbes editorial process without question and was published. Mr Monagan is an acknowledged casualty of faster media s we move towards real-time.
Watching the content-free real-time TV coverage of the royal birth and the numerous lame brand #royalbirth hashtag hijack attempts this week showed me as an audience member how an attempt to do real-time media can wear down the the consumer as well as the other parts of the media chain. It is time that we opened a dialogue about taking a step back from this self-defeating treadmill.
Archived from blog posts I wrote for PR Week