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E se diventassimo noi la sola fonte? Quali nuove responsabilità?

06/06/2006

Ecco qualche suggerimento di Richard Edelman.

Dal sito www.edelman.com ...May 30, 2006 The Fork in the Road Alex Jones, press and public policy director of the Shorenstein Center at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, delivered an impassioned plea to the PR industry's most senior executives at the PR Seminar's annual confab last Thursday. He suggested that the future of "accountability news" is very much in doubt in the pure market era now sweeping through mainstream media. "The subsidy is going away for high quality news that is essential to our democracy, the kind of news we supplied as part of our public responsibility. Fifteen percent of the space in newspapers over the last 150 years has been devoted to accountability news, which bears witness to public events, guarantees follow-up on these events, offers explanation for the events and funds investigative reporting. The product is being disaggregated, so the iron core of accountability news is being hollowed out," Jones said. "We will soon yearn for a honest broker who tells you a practical truth, the objective of stylized reporting."
He went on to say that news is moving away from objectivity toward subjectivity. He suggested that "subjectivity, finding underserved markets, ideologically targeted, is a viable business strategy," using the Murdoch/FOX News concept as the best example. We are "fast approaching a time of relative truths, resulting in an even more toxic partisan environment," he suggested. He added that newspapers are also enhancing their local news sections at the expense of global and complicated stories, with the idea that "every paper must be local." He noted that "people are increasingly satisfied with news they get on cell phones or via free newspapers handed out at subway entrances--this business model does not pay for complex journalism." His take on citizen journalism is that "we are enhanced by what they know but this is not a replacement for journalists...citizen journalism will be incorporated into every newspaper but we need the passion of the citizen with the dispassion of the reporter."
Now for the fork in the road for those of us in the PR business. Jones contends that "media with reduced staff is looking for packaged content. The temptation will be high for PR people to do in print what has been done in Video News Releases. (Check out the story in The Independent on May 29, headlined "Bush Planted Fake News Stories on American TV", citing a report by the non-profit group Center for Media and Democracy, which claims that over a 10 month period, 77 TV stations used VNRs and not one told viewers who had produced them. This includes one from the State Department featuring an Iraqi-American thanking President Bush after the fall of Baghdad)
Jones asks that PR people stay with credible advocacy. "If PR is perceived as trying to replace traditional news, it will work against PR. There will be a serious backlash. It is bad for PR if serious journalism is swept away. It is bad PR to have VNRs without attribution." He added, "There will be unlimited media choices in which PR people can embed advocacy messages. But the audience will be very fragmented in reach and in attention. In fact, the audience will be cynical about the messages and will discount them. The Web may offer a chance for unmediated delivery of messages but you lack the credibility of the journalistic filter."
What is one to make of Jones' speech? How serious is it for PR that the man who runs the foremost center for press and public policy in the US is fundamentally skeptical about our profession?
I take it very seriously and believe it is time for us to recognize that with our enhanced opportunity comes a very real responsibility. Here are a few ideas for us to consider:
1) Tell both sides of every story. We can be more credible by listing the side effects along with the demonstrable benefits. PR firms should check the facts provided by the client or third parties. Provide reporters the facts in a new form of press release which contains quotes from company officials and other useful elements for them to assemble however they see fit. If it's a financial release, include last year's numbers. Include customer quotes. Utilize tags so that search engines can "scrape" and correctly characterize the information.
2) Allow the consumer a chance to participate as co-creator by briefing and demonstrating earlier versions of the products and services. Empower employees to shape the company image. This can no longer be a top down world. Peer-to-peer conversation works along side information from the center.
3) Total transparency as to the motive and the funding source. There can be no tolerance for side financial arrangements or hidden endorsements in any market of the world.
4) We should try to stop making a distinction between communications and public relations. Though there may be some who believe communications is a more holistic description of our modern tool kit, I believe we will be hung with our legacy issues. We need to improve the practice of public relations.
I would appreciate your views on Alex Jones' important speech.

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