Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Open Letter to PR Week: Join the "Conversation"

I'm at SxSW Interactive today, prepping for a panel on Open Source Management -- a communications methodology invented by writer/provacateur/performer Heather Gold. The theory is that if you get one company and a bunch of folks together in one room, you can help the company shake free from bad (unchallenged) ideas that might be preventing it from connecting more directly with key constituencies (customers, partners, employees, etc.).

That idea was on my mind when I got together last night for beers with Keith O'Brien, the online guru for PR Week. It's rare I get QT with anyone at this increasingly important trade, so I took the opportunity to tell Keith that I really like how much the publication has "opened up" -- more free content, a more Web 2.0-y look and feel, and a more open approach generally -- but that I still felt frustated how much content was trapped behind the firewall. Two problems: if you are the kind of person who forgets or loses passwords (ahem), you're going to struggle keeping up with all the stuff in PR Week that only appears online (including most of what Keith writes, which, by the way, happens to be very good). Second, at a time when PR Week's coverage has begun to focus on new media and its effect on the PR profession, online writers/bloggers have no easy way to link to what PR Week has to say. In effect, they are shutting themselves out of the conversation.

I know it's tough to change a distribution model, and I've spent some time talking to other publishers who are scared. But there's a big opportunity here to become a more relevant publication with influence beyond the traditional reach. For better or for worse, the way organizations communicate and comport themselves online has become a matter of intense public scrutiny, and PR Week has the license and talent to educate and shape opinion. I urge Keith and his colleagues to keep pushing in the direction they are going. It feels right to me.


Blogger LeverWealth said...

Dear PRW,

To add a European perspective to the 'Open Letter'. Even your publisher must be able to see how PRW (and his other titles) have now lost the high ground. From FIR to New Communications Forum, Global PR Blog Week and that long list on the PR bloger's blog rolls, the space given up by PRW to on-line news, views and insights is lost forever.

Where once, I might have thought it was significant to have a comment in PRW, I now don't and if I have anything to say in public, I blog it, create a wiki, podcast or (less and less) a web site.

Where once I may have subscribed, I don't need to now. If its important it will be discussed on-line which is where I can catch up really fast.

Now, getting all those features, all the news stories, all the surveys and the interviews and gossip onto blogs, wiki's, podcasts vidcasts and even Xbox (for your younger readers) is going to take some effort but is can be worth it both editorially and commercially.

But you will still have a hard time getting back to where you were in the 'PR conversation' just a year ago.


David Phillips FCIPR

4:30 AM  
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