Blogger Noel Guinane, while doing a little PR for his blog, invited me by e-mail to comment on his new post, Dishonestly honest or honestly dishonest?
I think I’ll blog about it instead.
But mostly he just steals his ideas from Jeff Jarvis at Buzzmachine, while simultaneously accusing him of being in the Edelman stable. Jarvis admits that Edeman once bought him a danish.
He also pulls from a CNN interview of Edelman and Jarvis by Howard Kurtz last weekend.
Edelman also posted the transcript on his blog.
In his post, Jarvis makes the point that the time for “gatekeepers” (journalists or PR) is passing. Maybe this is so, but as the demand for access goes up, time itself becomes a gatekeeper. The people who already have access get more access, while others languish in the long tail of communication.
I think the role of public relations as a facilitator, making sure that access is granted to those that need it, which is much different that a gatekeeper role, “I decide what you will know.” We must be experts in knowing what the stakeholders of the companies we work for need and we must also be very close to the leadership and the employees of those companies to act as the stakeholders advocate at the decision-making table.
I once wrote that PR can be like the ombudsman for the stakeholders (customers, shareholders, etc.), connecting the concerns of the grassroots with the management.
Maybe a better term would be Relational Manger.
In his comments section, Noel responds to PR bloggers, whom I suspect he also invited over to comment (a brilliant PR move, by the way):
“I don't think there is value in PR in the blog world. […] like all conversation, it should not be manipulated by commercial interest and in my opinion those who try it are more than likely going to fail.
I suggested this to Mr. Edelman several months ago and he disagreed. He may yet prove successful in this endeavor, but for the moment, his attempts to control conversation are backfiring and I can't honestly say that I am sorry.
Rather than controlling the message, which I too think is likely to fail in the blogosphere, I think the goal should be to provide an avenue for engagement. As such, companies would be crazy to not engage bloggers and customers whenever possible.
So, is public relations valuable in the blogosphere?
I suppose it depends on your definition of PR. Mine says that public relations is a two-way exchange of information between a company and its stakeholders. In that definition, there is plenty of room for growth.