Washington Post “lifestyles” columnist Gene Weingarten, who experiences a thin slice of PR, launched another attack on PR in general May 3.

He says his favorite targets are PR people because “they are a hoot.” He feels their “entire existence teeters on a ludicrous lie they tell their clients: that they are tight with the media.”

Weingarten
Weingarten
In actuality, says Weingarten, “to most media they are as welcome as mosquitoes at a hemophiliacs’ picnic.” He feels their pitches are “particularly slimy.”

He had compared PR people to poisonous snakes in a column Nov. 27, 2007.

Another recent attack on PR in general was made by New York Times columnist David Carr who said on Jan. 29 that “The modern CEO lives behind a wall of communications operatives many of whom ladle out slop meant to obscure rather than reveal.” Carr is fed up dealing with PR “underlings.”

Weingarten was ticked off by a request for information from “Jim” Sinkinson of Infocom Group, publishers of Bulldog Reporter and which also operates “Media List Builder,” a compiler of information about editors. The request posed questions such as “Which specific beats and topic areas do you cover?” and “What do the best PR people do to grab you?”

Weingarten is mad at PR people because he feels so many of their pitches to him are not in areas he covers and that when he asks them questions they are hard put for answers.

We Do “PR for PR”


Since no one that we know of responded to the earlier attack by Weingarten nor to Carr’s attack, we are sending both copies of our May magazine that documents the growth of PR firms in general and particularly in the 12 specialties that we track. Also being sent to them is O’Dwyer’s Directory of PR Firms.

We would agree with Carr that phone calls to blue chip companies are almost invariably answered by administrative assistants who screen calls. That has been our experience in trying to reach IBM PR head Jon Iwata. Thus far we have only been able to talk to an admin. asst. Neither PR Iwata nor corporate press contact Edward Barbini return calls or e-mails.

Corporate and agency PR have become two different worlds.

If Weingarten and Carr look through the magazine they will see the large number of services that PR firms provide in addition to media relations to general circulation publications and websites.

Tech, healthcare and financial PR practice areas are booming because of the need to reach out to and respond to a large number of specialized audiences.

In tech this involves communicating with venture capitalists and banks to obtain seed money, experts in the tech magazines who review proposed products, wholesalers and retailers who will stock them, and companies and individuals who will buy the products.

Healthcare PR firms have a large variety of audiences including scientists, regulators and legislators at the federal and state levels, non-profit health groups, care providers such as hospitals, specialist publications and media, and general-interest media.

More than half of the PR firms in the documented O’Dwyer rankings grew in double figures in 2011 which attests to the fact that PR firms are providing a lot of valued services even though many of these services are not aimed at general publications like the New York Times and Washington Post.

National Capital Chapter Contacted


Weingarten
Holroyd
Neither Weingarten nor Carr should be ignored. Representatives of the major PR groups including the PR Society, Council of PR Firms, Arthur W. Page Society and Institute for PR should reach out to both and set up meetings. That would be doing “PR.”

Weingarten’s latest column on PR has been sent to Suzanne Holroyd, Ph.d., president of National Capital, the largest chapter in the Society with more than 1,400 members in its area.

Holroyd is director of communications, Office of Secretary of Defense, Sexual Assault Prevention and Response. Previously she was senior VP, Vandiver Group, St. Louis.

She was president of the St. Louis chapter and is “APR+M,” meaning she has a special military APR designation.

The Weingarten column has also been sent to chapter administrator Sherri Core in case Holroyd is not available.