Being Jewish, I never had the opportunity to go to confession — we just get one day a year to atone for our sins, and the rest of the time we keep our guilt to ourselves, which accounts for the near-constant kvetching.
Blogs allow you to confess every day, as often as you want. And you can do it without all the praying and penance. So here’s my confession: I’m a former journalist and former vice president of a multinational-owned public relations agency, and I am pratically bursting with schadenfreude because both industries are getting their collective asses kicked by the PC-empowered public.
I tried for years to get my former employer to understand the Internet — truly listen to it and understand it, not merely try to control it like they try to control everything else. I felt sorry for our clients, who were getting bad advice or no advice on the Internet’s implications. That’s why I left to start a company focused on modern media and to help clients communicate in today’s and tomorrow’s world.
So what’s happened? Blogs and the “regular people” who write them are by and large more timely, more accurate, and more credible than “professional” journalists and PR mouthpieces. Bloggers don’t need to worry about seven-second sound bites, shrinking news holes or corporate parents. They don’t need editors because blogs are self-organizing, self-policing and self-analyzing. And in most cases they don’t need training, because they tend to ask more insightful questions and do more investigating than the “real” journalists.
Shel Israel, who is writing a book on corporate blogging called The Red Couch, perhaps puts it best with regard to the PR profession: “…today PR communications channels are generally perceived as being corrupt and uncredible. As such, they have deteriorated as a business tool. Blogging today has superior credibility, adheres to better rules of self-governance and reshapes how and why PR will be practiced if it is to survive.
“PR people cannot just treat blogging as another channel down which they will toss the same old crap. Their new role will be to teach company officials to speak for themselves, in a plain language and adhering to the rules that makes blogging a more credible communications channel.”
Israel says this creates opportunity for the “very best” of PR practitioners — I couldn’t agree more.
By the way, The Red Couch looks like it will be fantastic. I hope it is among the first of what will be many more books and blogs about the changing face of journalism and PR (Dan Gillmor’s We the Media is a must read), and I pray that journalists and PR professionals will read them, too.
You know, I could get used to this confession thing. Best of all, I don’t need to wait until next Yom Kippur to admit to God that I sometimes sing along to the songs on Radio Disney, or that I think CNN anchorwoman Daryn Kagan is kinda hot. Whew, I feel better already.