When I was studying journalism back in the Eighties, public relations had an image problem. Journalists who moved into PR were said to have been “too nice” to survive in the tough world of newspapers or to have “crossed over to the Dark Side”. Government spin doctors fell into the latter (grudgingly respected) category; these included the top PRs with the big agencies and the Alastair Campbell types.
The “nice” ones we loved to disparage worked as “in-house public relations officers”. It was their job to make apologies on national radio for corporate cock-ups, or to send press releases to busy journalists in the hope that some of the quotes might be used (press releases were never published verbatim in those days).
Of course, the media business has changed so much that pure journalism can no longer be found in any of our newspapers. Most of it is PR of one kind or another, written by or on behalf of celebrities, politicians and people with various vested interests. We can’t fight this: all we can do is fight our own corners, whether we’re journalists or the aforementioned celebs, politicians and representatives of vested interests.
However, while the much-maligned in-house PRs are still there, they’re just as bad for business as they ever were. The main reasons are:
- It’s expensive to keep a “pet journalist” on the staff, on standby. It’s also a big commitment.
- One content-writer does not suit every project, and you might find you need a team of content-writers (which is why some companies hire PR agencies, which can turn out to be even more costly – and less satisfactory if they pass you on to their office-juniors).
- Your in-house content writer is too close to your company to advocate for you outside the company. Not only will they talk like you – they’ll think like you. You will be great at communicating with your own staff, regular contacts and present clients – but what if you want to reach potential clients?
Rather than talk to the echo chamber, why not save yourself a lot of time, stress and money – and hire an independent ghostwriter?