Flicking through Morris and Goldsworthy's PR Today (Mediations Book of the Year review here) I saw I had highlighted a passage in a chapter called PR in the Online World which claims:
"When it creates its own media, digital PR loses PR's unique selling proposition: third party endorsement, usually and hopefully from an authoratative media source." (2012:145)
Setting aside my discomfort with the term 'digital PR' which I consider pretty meaningless, I am still trying to decide if they are right...
One of the tricky bits comes with the word 'authoritative' which implies both expertise and impartiality. But why? Are facts and figures reproduced by a newspaper more likely to be accurate than those coming directly from an organisation? Or is the argument based on a belief that such information will be selected and filtered in a less partisan manner if that selection is done by a journalist?
From another perspective, is the claim that a journalist or commentator's opinion is likely to be more reliable because they are external to an organisation and more likely to take into account competing assessments and interpretations?
Or, again, are M&G saying most people don't have the courage to back their own judgment and need media endorsement to help them through tricky process of choosing dog food or the next US president?
There is a strong argument for believeing that organisation should have the confidence to speak directly with stakeholders, and and this is an opportunity for PR, not a drawback.
At the same time, this requires communicators to speak in normal, straightforward language, and not have to rely on gatekeepers to cut away the puffery and sleight of hand.