Friday, April 22, 2005

Paul Graham’s submarine

Paul Graham has written a fascinating analysis of PR’s influence on the press. Shorter version, Graham is not enthusiastic about our work. He is correct to say we have a huge impact on story selection, otherwise our clients would not pay us.

Organizations, commercial and otherwise, need to get their message out, news publishers and broadcasters need stories to tell. I would suggest there is a creative tension between the two that serves the public interest.

I certainly agree with Graham that PR is essential for small businesses whose advertising budget is limited; that is why I started Presto Vivace, Inc. I also think this observation is exactly right-

Whatever its flaws, the writing you find online is authentic. It's not mystery meat cooked up out of scraps of pitch letters and press releases, and pressed into molds of zippy journalese. It's people writing what they think.

I didn't realize, till there was an alternative, just how artificial most of the writing in the mainstream media was. I'm not saying I used to believe what I read in Time and Newsweek. Since high school, at least, I've thought of magazines like that more as guides to what ordinary people were being told to think than as sources of information. But I didn't realize till the last few years that writing for publication didn't have to mean writing that way. I didn't realize you could write as candidly and informally as you would if you were writing to a friend.

Next time I write a press release I will try to bring my blog sensibility to bear, and see if it does not improve the copy.

Dan Gillmor comments.

Reptile Rants comments.

Virtual journalist

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