Put the RSS Release Down and Back Away from the Keyboard: Closing Newspapers Put Integrity in the Hands Agencies

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Advertising and PR agencies like ours have changed the way we communicate, adding things like search engine marketing, social media promotions, blogging and lots of other direct-to-consumer communications. It’s to the point that literally half of our PR services have nothing to do with media relations.  In fact, it’s hard to tell where our advertising campaigns end and our PR tactics begin.  It’s all intertwined in one platform of online and offline communications.

This is great, but there’s a creeping issue of intergity as the filter of established media outlets weakens.

Consider this: last week, the Seattle Times closed, and venerable papers across the country are teetering on the edge of the abyss. And it’s not just newspapers, Best Life magazine shudders in May what I’m sure will be a series of glossy periodical closures in the next 36 months.

True, this is largely economic fallout, but there’s something more afoot as corporate self-publishing bypasses the media with RSS releases with embedded video and links, and microsites promotions become our standard form of campaigning. The balance of objectivity is in danger if becoming severely out of whack.

Good online marketers know that overly commercial messages on the Internet are useless.  But insidious spin can be even more dangerous, and not just to readers.  Nothing will kill a company faster on the Net than dishonesty.

So PR and advertising agencies turn more to RSS, microsite campaigning, social media PR and even search engine optimization, the entire profession needs to step back and take a long, cool drink of integrity.  

This new Wild West of public relations is a dangerous place. In the past, a curt “no thanks” from a journalist only hurt the ego.  As we wade directly into the waters of public opinion, the rip tide of objectivity will churn with considerably more power and wrath.

Consider this the next time you’re about to hit “post”.  We’re counting on you.