David Carr’s excellent column (subscription required) in Monday’s New York Times highlighted an increasingly prevalent trend in journalism. As newspapers and magazines continue to downsize, consolidate or disappear entirely, more and more journalists have embraced "web 2.0" and created their own blogs or eBusinesses. Carr cites Fortune Magazine’s Nina Munk, who has her own web company called Urban Hound, as a great example of the trend. There’s also Om Malik and Rafat Ali, erstwhile journalists with Business 2.0 and the Silicon Alley Reporter, respectively, who have their own news sites/blogs.
Carr believes that more and more journalists will be creating their own blogs and eBusinesses in order to compete and survive as the digital revolution continues to wreak havoc on traditional communications channels.
Carr’s column got me wondering why the more progressive PR firms aren’t creating their own information-based eBusinesses. Why shouldn’t Edelman, Weber, CRT/Tanaka or Airfoil provide "insider" perspectives on the industry in which they operate? While we are obviously client and new business focused, we could just as easily create content driven thought pieces that would rival anything published by the current trade journals. And, our eJournals would carry the first-hand "I was there" immediacy the trade journals lack.
Sure, there’s the question of objectivity, but, if the top management consulting firms like Bain and Accenture can do it, why can’t we? And, why can’t we connect directly with prospective clients in the process?
Malik’s gigaOM.com and Ali’s paidContent.org cover technology and digital media news. Both have broken a number of stories and received funding from venture capitalists.
So, why can’t a public relations firm also create a separate revenue stream by creating a Web site that provides analysis, fresh content and an "insider’s view of what’s really what?" Hey, maybe David Carr would be interested in becoming editor?
I agree, Steve. And this is something that the Council certainly could undertake.
I think you guys missed my point. I was suggesting a Wharton, Bain or Accenture business model that would have nothing to do with Peppercom’s core public relations offerings. I’d forese us hiring an independent group of journalists who’d work alongside us to figure out what’s really important to clients and agencies and publish a very high-end, subscription-based eJournal. Hey, I can dream.
While it may land you a vehicle to do what you say PR Week does not, methinks that this will only take publicists away from job number 1 – getting their clients ink. That is what we’re here for at the end of the day, right?
I think we’ll continue to see individual PR experts — guys like Rubel, Jeremy Pepper, Shel Holtz, Repman, etc — providing insider perspectives on the industry via their blogs. Interesting idea about having an agency publish a true industry-wide blog/enewsletter covering all aspects of the PR biz. I think initially many people would be skeptical and assume the agency had an agenda, but who knows.
Why? One very simple reason- objectivity! PR firms are not paid to be objective nor do they bill their time to do so. They are paid by their clients to spin a story and get ink, period. No objective reader is going to take the content on its face value.
Now, if a PR firm created an underground site and billed it as a true content blog, and no one knew the truth, that could work. But all repman readers know that the repman would call that site out and let us know how wrong it was, so why bother 🙂