Fight! Fight! Fight! Amanda Chapel at Stumpette has issued an open (and very forthright) letter to the CEOs and Chief Execs of the top 50 PR agencies in the US and UK.
Her question was: "Where are you?!! Listen… we had a Call to Action last week where we invited a number of you here to a critical debate about the future of our business. Not one showed up."
She concludes by saying: "Bottom line, the business has never been more pathetic and you are
endorsing it with your silence. Used to be that once a year or so a
major paper would variously satirize us; today, on Strumpette, there’s
something daily. Frankly, we cannot keep up.IT’S TIME FOR A CHANGE! Help us end the silence. Speak up now
or forever hold you peace. We invite you to join us the concerned
majority in an effort to reestablish the respected professional
discipline of PR. No more obfuscation. We’d like each of you to stand
up and show your support and especially your smarts.TELL US! What should we do and how do you personally plan to lead us there?"
And first off the blocks with a response is Joel Postman, EVP of Eastwick Communications. His piece titled "The Costcofication of Media" is well worth a read.
I agree with some his conclusions, namely: "As corporate marketing budgets tighten, and internal communications
staff is cut, and turned over to junior (read less expensive, more
easily abused) people, it is inevitable that corporations will look to
outsource more and more communications functions and projects to PR and
advertising agencies and marketing firms. Giovanni Rodriguez terms it
"a crisis of identity" for agencies. I would call it a crisis of
quality for clients. The result is that many corporations have
inadvertently chosen to do one-stop shopping for a cart full of
generic, low-cost media."
However, I took the following comment with a pinch of salt: "Messaging, writing and media relations, along with analyst relations,
are at the core of the universe of things that PR agencies do very
well. Better than anyone in fact. It’s why we exist. And clients who
understand the importance of these three things, pursue them, commit to
them, budget for them, and listen to counsel, get results."
Messaging, writing and media relations are things that PR agencies OUGHT to do very well – but as we’ve documented here ad nauseum, the general skill level in writing and media relations is on the decline. Is it all the nasty client’s fault for cutting budgets? Which means that agency training budgets get cut and cheaper, less experienced labour has to be deployed? It is certainly a factor – but it can’t all be the client’s fault. Can it?