Today, the public relations industry is making news headlines, and not in a good way. The biggest names- Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Fortune, bloggers and the Twittersphere- are all talking. Not for our hard work and dedication to our profession in securing clients the coverage they deserve, but in another way. The news in the latest Google vs. Facebook saga involves our profession and our reputation as an industry. The Daily Beast and USA Today, broke the news that unmasked Facebook for hiring a global public relations company to launch an anti-Google smear attack. The plan was exposed and all players involved are now in the headlines.
As an industry, we’ve come a long way in demonstrating the value of our work to our clients and the media. Our worth is not found in creating smear campaigns against competition but rather in helping establish our clients as thought-leaders in their spaces and challenging them with creative campaigns to do so. By attempting to manipulate journalistic coverage, this news reflects a broken key tenant of our industry: we work with the press to secure coverage for our clients. This was truly unethical, and absolutely is not a practice that the vast majority of public relations firms engage in. But based on today’s coverage, you wouldn’t necessarily know that. One PR professional’s actions unfortunately reflect on us all as professionals.
We operate in a professional services industry. At the end of the day, all we have to stand on is the work we’ve done and our reputations. And if you don’t have a reputation in this business, you don’t have anything.