Monday, July 19, 2010

When Good PR Becomes Bad News...

Recently in Australia, several media outlets ran a story about the perils of excessive texting. They named several new "serious mental and physical disorders" - such as Textiety, Post Traumatic Text Disorder and Textophrenia. However, these "disorders" were actually part of an online advertising campaign for a mobile phone company promoting cheap texts to teenagers!
The journalists who reported these shocking new "disorders" fell into the trap of so many overworked (or lazy) penpushers these days: not checking their sources before publication! The press release morphed into something much bigger than it actually was...and in the resultant backlash, Media Watch accused the PR company of "unconscionable" conduct for its "cynical campaign"!

What?! This is a classic case of "don't shoot the messenger" - rather, question the journos who bought into it. The problem – a big one for journalism – is that a lot of newsrooms are squeezed by financial and time constraints. If the PR content is entertaining, then the newspaper won’t ask too many questions about whether it’s true – just whether it’s a good story. It's 'cut and paste' journalism.
But that responsibility lies with the journalists, not the PR people. Unfortunately, entertaining the publics comes higher on the agenda these days than getting to The Truth.

You can read more (and see the TVads featuring "real" sufferers of these "disorders") at mUmBRELLA, an Oz media and marketing site.

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