"Ever since [the early 1900's] public-relations officers have been locked in an antagonistic, symbiotic relationship with journalists, with mutual contempt tempered by mutual dependency." - The Economist, December 2010
It's tough reading this article in the Economist. Try sifting through the comments to see what other readers think about the article. It's not pretty. Reading the article compels me to put some points across too, as the commenters have done under the article.
I'm lucky to be in a spot where, as someone who has worked in PR since the 90s, I remember the picture The Economist paints, but I do not recognise it now. For me, and our clients at 33 Digital, digital comms and social media have changed everything about relationships, audiences, engagement, skills, how we listen, who we work with, and our dependence on old-fashioned media.
I'm someone who started in PR in the dot com boom. I've only ever known a time when people and PR professionals have come to terms with the fact that the internet is allowing companies to talk direct to the audience, not always through the journalist any more. Sadly for the reader of this Economist article, the last 11 years seem to have taken place on the far side of the moon.
To give the anonymous writer of the article their fair dues, they have acknowledged fleetingly that digital and social is the future of PR. Here's the bit you might want to read, you might miss it, it's near the end:
"...social networking, with its cacophony of bloggers, Facebookers and tweeters, is becoming more influential. It is also confusing and hard to control. The public is becoming deafened and confused by a barrage of contradictory messages. Bernays’s maxim about the public needing trusted “influencers” to tell them what to buy and think is therefore becoming truer than ever. ...it is clear that another century of spin, perhaps greater than the one gone by, is in prospect."
However, crucially, the writer believes most online 'influencers' are influenced by 'old fashioned' media, and so are 'most powerful and influential people'. The key thing to ask is not how to reach 'most' with 'old fashioned', but to have the right set-up to reach more, and the best tools to reach further than the competition in ways that make you #win.