I’m in the midst of reading Barbara Ehrenreich’s new book, "Bait and Switch: the (Futile) Pursuit of the American Dream." As she did in her incredible "Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America" tome of 2001, when she went "undercover" to see what it was like to be a member of America’s working poor, Ehrenreich goes incognito in search of a new story.
This one really hits close to home, as the former New York Times columnist reinvents herself as a 50-year-old unemployed public relations freelancer and event planner. She takes the reader along as she goes job hunting for a full-time corporate PR gig.
Unlike "Nickle and Dimed," however, the story is slow and unappealing. The author spends far too much time ridiculing the various self-help job search gurus and PR executives she encounters on her sojourn. What really got my attention, though, were Ehrenreich’s constant jabs at, and put downs of, the public relations field, which she refers to as "journalism’s evil twin."
Ehrenreich reminds me of so many other "holier-than-thou" journalists who look down their collective noses at PR and refuse to admit how much they depend upon us for ideas and access. This has obviously been an age-old problem for PR people and isn’t likely to change anytime soon.
Still, I’d love to hear or read something from a journalist that speaks objectively about PR, and recognizes what we bring to today’s 24×7 world.
Well, I can always dream. Oh, and by the way, Ms. Ehrenreich? We’d never hire anyone with such preconceived notions and such an obvious chip on her shoulder. Better hang onto that day job.