What is the greatest profession – PR or Journalism?
Forget the eternal question of “What is the meaning of life?”, or even the more mundane “Can I really justify drinking another bottle of wine?”, it is the Journalism vs PR quandary that has been giving me sleepless nights for quite a while now.
So, in an effort to get some shut eye, I decided to turn to the internet for help. Surely, the “great God” Google would help me finally find a definitive answer to the question that keeps rattling around my sleep-starved brain at 2 in the morning.
Or perhaps not.
There are, that is certain, a lot of positives and negatives given for both professions. Indeed, a search of “PR is great” racks up an impressive 209,000,000 hits, while “Journalism is great” trails behind at just 104,000,000.
But, just when I thought Google might have answered the all-important question, I decided to switch out “great” for “crap”… “PR is crap” scored 818,000 hits, while “Journalism is crap” got 709,000.
So much for Google – both professions are officially great, and crap.
After finally abandoning Google, my thoughts turned to writers past and present, as well as business chiefs and industry leaders. Perhaps they, in their infinite wisdom, may be able to settle this burning question once and for all.
Good old Oscar Wilde totally muddied the waters for me with this quote: “By giving us the opinions of the uneducated, journalism keeps us in touch with the ignorance of the community.”
Meanwhile, George Orwell retorted: “Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations.”
But it is clear that fantasy writer Ray Bradbury was on the side of the hacks when he retorted “Journalism keeps you planted in the earth” and British-Iranian TV presenter Christiane Amanpour is also a supporter, saying: “I believe that good journalism can make our world a better place.”
However, a recent poll of 3,000 UK adults found that journalists were the third most distrusted professionals – just behind politicians and bankers. Electricians and plumbers were deemed much more trustworthy.
And poet Gilbert K. Chesterton was obviously no great fan of the noble art either, claiming “Journalism largely consists of saying ‘Lord Jones is Dead’ to people who never knew Lord Jones was alive.”
So much for journalism, what of PR?
“Show me a PR person who is ‘accurate’ and ‘truthful,’ and I’ll show you a PR person who is unemployed…” stated CBS legal analyst Andrew Cohen on a TV show back in 2008.
Andrew’s comments created a storm of indignation amongst PR professionals and, at least in the world of business, his views were clearly not shared by some of the biggest movers and shakers.
Bill Gates, of Microsoft fame, obviously appreciates the need for good PR: “If I was down to my last dollar, I would spend it on public relations,” he once stated.
Fellow businessman Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, is also a supporter. “Publicity is absolutely critical. A good PR story is infinitely more effective than a front page ad,” he said.
Even John D. Rockefellar, an oil industry magnate who died in 1937, recognised the importance of PR, quipping: “Next to doing the right thing, the most important thing is to let people know you are doing the right thing.”
Perhaps, after all this research and Googling, there is no answer to be had on the Journalism vs PR question. I suspect it might eventually boil down to personal opinion.
Meanwhile, my quest for the truth continues – as does my pursuit for an answer on “What is the meaning of life?”….