Richard Edelman of Edelman PR firm writes on his Speak Up blog about how PR industry is increasingly on the defensive as to its standards, effectiveness, credibility, honesty, etc etc.
Status quo is not acceptable for our industry. We are being dismissed as eyewash or even worse as obfuscators.
As we discussed the problem, we came to an agreement on what needs to change. We should modify our vocabulary. We talk with pride about developing messages for our clients. What about Doc Searls’ view that in this democratized world, we don’t need messages? Maybe the idea of controlled messages is something that worked in a world of relatively few media and is now obsolete. We have to get away from anything that smacks of control and manipulation of audiences. We should opt for public relationships where the operational words are dialogue, transparency and speed to market.
A fairly predictable discussion in the comments ensues, with David Weinberger weighing in with a forceful explanation of what he means by knowledge being a result of ongoing conversations:
Yes, I am pushing that conversation thing hard. Here’s a key to making sense of me: After farting around with the idea for a long time, I’ve come to fully and literally believe that knowledge does not consist of a set of true statements, but is indeed something constantly emerging from conversations. I finally came to this belief after realizing that the old idea that we argue about something and then settle on a belief is a false characterization of our situation. Rather, we argue and discuss forever, we rarely come to universal agreements, and the conversations are going to continue as long as there are humans. Our hope should be (IMO) not that we come to universal agreement - it ain’t gonna happen - but that we have more conversations with more people, in a bigger world, and that the quality of our conversations gets better. That’s as close as we’re going to get to knowledge. IMO.
Hm, a bit Popperian, I’d say… and makes sense to me. As for the PR industry? Unless those involved in it truly understand that a message/image/impression cannot be controlled and that the companies are not founts of all knowledge, they’ll probalby follow their media cousins.