Monday, July 11, 2005

Why Worry? 

Why should PR people worry about the rise of fake search results? It's not just because such chicanery creates headaches for clients. Rather, it is symptomatic of a general abuse of research in which PR practitioners too often aid and abet misbehavior. If you question that last statement, check out the number of internet polls we see today. Anyone who has examined the validity of an internet poll can tell you that few, if any of them, have statistical grounding. They're fake, but practitioners blithely write releases about poll results, as if they are definitive.

That is just a small part of what PR practitioners do to merchandise data that has no meaning. Unfortunately, I have to admit that in my career, I have done some of this too. But, I have tried to be more intelligent in recent years, and I resist client efforts to make meaningless data into a news.

If we as PR practitioners want to preserve our credibility and the credibility of our clients, we will be ruthless about research we use. Check everything two and three times. Make sure that quotes and quotations are accurate. Avoid conventional wisdom and find a right answer. Sure, some editors and reporters swallow anything, but our job is not to feed them pablum. Our job is to make them look smart, so they return to us time and again and become resources for a client.

Let others fake research. PR practitioners should be known for getting facts right.


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