MSVU Social Media Course Blog

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Taweel Reading – Where Was the Essence of PR Lost?


The Essence

The Essence













Taweel’s paper makes the statement that although public relations and communications are constantly evolving professions ‘the fundamental essence of all good communications, however, remains unchanged.’ I’m sure we can all agree with that. However, there is a great deal of evidence that suggests communicators have abandoned that essence.


Additional Links

1Look In The Mirror


3 The Anderson Effect

My question is: Where was the essence of good communications lost? Or perhaps the better question is when was it lost? As communications evolves online, whether we are leveraging social media as part of our communications strategies or we are practicing public relations and marketing via the internet, there is a disconcerting amount of poor communications practices happening in our industry. More poor than good, even experienced communicators are continuously failing at online communications and as the upholders of companies reputations we are doing a terrible job at upholding ours.

If the essence remains the same how has our profession fallen between the cracks? There are some great theories suggesting that entry level PR people responsible for writing press releases and getting their client some online ink are not properly trained by senior management or by their alma maters. These kids are under a lot of pressure to ‘spread the word’ but in doing so have ignored basic elements of blogger relations and subsequently rejected the essence of ‘good communication.’  

Unfortunately in many cases senior management is unlikely to be skilled in effective online communication as well and may be more concerned with ROI than the entry level practitioners reputation.  Doing our job well requires not only a firm understanding of the fundamentals of our profession but  constantly putting them into practice. 

What does everyone think?


May 14, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , ,


  1. I think Matt raised a good point in posing the question of where/ when the essence of PR was lost? I tend to agree with Taweel in her belief that the fundamental essence remains unchanged. I believe it is evolving technology and growing methods of communication coupled with poor user understanding that is burying the essence of good communication. The nature of instant messaging and immediate dissemination now holds severe implications for those ‘green’ PR practitioners keen to introduce their baby boomer boss to the world of social media. The instantaneous nature of such mediums allows the world to view your blog, tweet, or what have you in second upon posting to the web. In such a fast paced setting as PR, posting without proof reading, proper use of censorship or tact can cost companies clients and end up costing you your job. This is why such practices as proofreading, copy editing and peer review are so very important to us as professional communicators. The newspaper industry may be suffering, but this is one old school practice that is invaluable to our profession. After all, if we have one opportunity to deliver a key message, we want to ensure it’s the intended message, right?

    What’s more, Taweel states that good communication results “when a relationship is established and a two-way exchange takes place.” (Taweel, Pg 7) However, she goes on to say that this exchange “is not necessarily mutually beneficial for both parties.” Rather, “the benefit is derived from the conversation versus the outcome of said exchange…” (Taweel, Pg 8) I think this is worth exploring and perhaps a different way to look at the exchanges that take place. For example, in the post “PR People Suck” on The Bad Pitch Blog (linked through Matt’s post in “there is a great deal of evidence”), Alison Garber, Senior Management for a PR firm is chastised for her informality and poor choice of the word “spin” in an email. In this case, Garber certainly did not benefit from the outcome of her attempt to establish a relationship. However, she did benefit from the conversation exchange in the sense that she is now aware of the tact and level of professionalism necessary when utilizing such social media tools as email or blogging. As a result, she may now have a better understanding of appropriate relations for various mediums and the importance of copy editing in achieving good communications.

    Finally, we cannot allow these new social media tools to facilitate all of our communications. As Taweel suggests, these tools are effective aids in enhancing existing communications channels. Until we have achieved proper evaluation methodologies, we must exercise caution when using these new tools so as not to damage the reputation of ‘good’ PR practitioners and likewise PR firms that breathe the essence of good communication.

    That’s my two cents. 🙂

    Comment by hollyfleming | May 15, 2009 | Reply

  2. Ummm, the cool guy with sunglasses is actually supposed to read Pg 8

    Comment by hollyfleming | May 15, 2009 | Reply

  3. I also think Matt raised a good point about “when the essence of PR was lost” and I also agree with Holly’s stand on the Taweel reading. However, after reading Birdsall’s piece on Web 2.0 I think that maybe the essence of PR hasn’t been lost but merely challenged. Birdsall piece says that the Web “allows everyone their fundamental human right not only to be informed but to participate in communication,” thus moving towards a more two-way dissemination of information. This two-way model as we’ve all been come to understand, is supposed to be what “good PR” is.

    So if social media is allowing this preferred model to exist doesn’t that essentially mean that we are getting what we wanted? I don’t think any of us can say the PR came from the most ethical of places and it most likely will never be perfect, but these tools are moving us towards a more perfected model of communication. While I agree with Holly’s cautions and advice on perfecting evaluation – essentially I think that social media isn’t changing the essence of PR, it is what practitioners (Grunig at least) aspires for it to be.

    Over and out.


    Comment by beewilly | May 17, 2009 | Reply

  4. […] must sound like a broken record My first contribution to this blog talked a little bit about PR spam and entry level PR flacks ruining their reputation […]

    Pingback by I must sound like a broken record « MSVU Social Media Course Blog | May 22, 2009 | Reply

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