If Only Media Counted

by Roger Pynn

This cute Forbes contribution by Peter Himler looking at “today’s headlines through the prism of PR/media/marketing” stops short of looking at our profession through the lens of purpose.

Himler writes of a test he began giving back in the pre-Internet days to prospective public relations hires … a test based on their knowledge of the news media they would ostensibly deal with if hired.  Then he tries to update it for a world that operates at a dizzying pace in which everyone seems convinced that success will be measured by clicks.

If getting to PR’s pearly gates was based only on media successes I’d start handing out Himler’s test tomorrow.  However, what clients really want from us is far more than Klout scores in the stratosphere or a seat on the “Today” show couch with Matt Lauer (although that could well be a home run).

They want brand definition and recognition … and reputation management … and corporate social responsibility programs … and candid internal communications … and many other things that aren’t dependent upon media habits.  Certainly, the shifting sands of technology-enabled communications are important to what we do … but public relations people will be far more valuable to employers and clients if they focus on what really keeps the boss awake at night.

2 Responses to If Only Media Counted

  1. Roger,

    Thanks for noticing the media relations quiz I posted on Forbes.com and on my own blog (http://bit.ly/rFBTTr). Your points are well-taken, as were those of H&K’s Mary Lee Sachs who also groused that PR is more than just media relations. I tried to put the test in perspective and responded to her by saying that:

    “…the test only provides a glimpse of one’s media connectivity and curiosity (versus PR acumen). It is that PR acumen or strategic insight that many [clients] don’t understand or value as much as they should. More often than not, they want to know whom you know in the media as a way to assess our value.

    Also, as much as has changed in our world, I do believe that most companies today continue to share a single goal: a positive branded presence in the media — a presence that leads to measurable business results (e.g., sales, stock price, reputation, POV). The media has evolved, as has the means for gaining that presence, i.e., earned, owned, shared, paid. But the PR professional remains inextricably tied to the media in all its forms. I don’t see that changing anytime soon.”

    Yes, understanding what keeps our clients up at night is vital to the PR profession’s long-term sustainability. Still, I don’t see the media being left out of the equation for getting from point A to point B.

    Kind regards,

    Peter Himler
    Flatiron Communications LLC
    http://www.flatironcomm.com
    Twitter: peterhimler

  2. Roger Pynn says:

    Thanks, Peter. We’re on the same page. PR professionals can’t have their nose so far up in the air that we forget the role of media relations, promotions and the many other tactical elements that the folks like Ed Bernays taught us on the way to becoming a social science that deals with perception, attitudes, actions and outcomes.

    I look forward to following your blog.

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