Beating up on PR has become a bona fide media trend, whether it's Gene Weingarten of the Washington Post calling PR pros "desperate dillweeds" or another journalist taking to the Internet to assail the entire industry because of a ragged few, the problem appears to be getting worse.

The latest missive, by Jason Calacanis, the new media entrepreneur behind Silicon Alley Reporter and Weblogs Inc., has sparked an outcry in the PR blogosphere and drawn a stinging rebuke from Edelman CEO Richard Edelman, as well more tepid responses from other industry executives. It's good to see Richard fighting back, but much more is needed.

Pointing to his own success, Calacanis posted a dispatch – “How To Get PR For Your Startup: Fire Your PR Company” – on Silicon Alley Reporter about why he thinks PR firms (and people) are unnecessary while offering his own tips for handling the press.
“…for over 10 years I've been the subject of many stories, including features in the New Yorker and WIRED (twice!), as well as on television programs including Charlie Rose, 60 Minutes, Nightline, CNN, Fox News, Bloomberg and countless others. I've gotten more press than any entrepreneur could dream of--certainly more than I deserve--and I've never had a public relations firm working for me.”

“You don't need a PR firm, you don't need an in-house PR person and you don't need to spend ANY money to get amazing PR. You don't need to be connected, and you don't need to be a ‘name brand.’”

His “philosophy of PR” is summed as: “be amazing, be everywhere, be real.” The tips run from “be the brand” to “invite people to ‘swing by’ your office.”

Richard Edelman ripped Calacanis’ observations as a “monomaniacal riff” and likened him to Captain Ahab.

Edelman fumed:
"I am heartily sick of the ad hominem attacks and cheap shots taken by those who would try to draw attention to themselves. For a guy who states that ‘your ability to hire people, get meetings, raise money, and form partnerships will be tied to your PR footprint,’ it is just amazing to learn that the only way to succeed is on your own, by holding your own conversations with media/bloggers, by organizing your own dinner salons and by being the brand."

Edelman compared the stereotyping of PR people to ethnic profiling in law enforcement, urging Calacanis to “stop the open season on PR people and recognize that smart entrepreneurs will continue to use us to deliver outstanding results that build their businesses."
His outrage is well placed. Calacanis’ post is just the latest in an ongoing anti-PR meme that has emerged online and in print, a trend that must be addressed on a greater level by the industry.

Here are some other PR bloggers addressing Calacanis' post :
Not all CEOs know the difference between what the media considers newsworthy versus self-serving hype – and for that reason alone, they should not all run out tomorrow and start pitching the media. Gina Rubel

Of course, the basic flaw in Jason’s otherwise helpful PR primer is that very few start up CEOs (or CEOs in general) have the skills, temperament or time to do an effective job of conducting their own public relations. Patrick Di Chiro

"....yes, CEOs could do their own PR. But trust me, most don’t have time for it (not enough to do a good job at it) and most do not have the ego and showmanship that it takes to be as successful as Calacanis has been. Christine Perkett