Monday, March 14, 2005


We justify much of what we do in PR by appealing to the implied third-party authority and credibility of the media. So what do you make of this? The study concluded that news stories about Bush were three times more likely to be negative than those about John Kerry. Yet, Bush was reelected handily over Kerry. If the media have implied credibility, wouldn't you expect a result the other way around?

Or, does the American public no longer trust the media in some matters, especially matters of politics. Or, worse yet, are fewer Americans bothering to read the media, and print journalists write to a minority of voters who do not influence the outcome of races? I favor this last explanation because newspaper circulation is falling. More Americans get news from TV and online than from turning the pages of a paper.

This opens a question we don't like to ask in PR. If that is true, why do we spend so much time getting placements in newspapers? We justify our existence by saying influentials read papers though others might not. But is that true? I don't think it is. Most CEOs have no time to read a paper. They scan news summaries prepared by a PR department. News summaries come from a variety of sources so any one medium's credibility is not as much an issue. I suspect this is true as well in the halls of Congress. Aides read papers not Senators and Congressmen. So again, to whom are we speaking when we get a placement in the newspaper?

These are tough questions, but a time is coming when we might be forced to give better answers than we do now.


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