October 5, 2014

False Accusation of PR Firms

Twenty years ago, I was a journalism-major, international undergraduate student in upstate New York, for only one semester. I shortly gave up journalism because I was discouraged by one professor during academic consultation pointing out difficulties of a non-English speaker conducting interviews in English.


I now know that is unnecessary worry because I've seen non-native English jounalists conduct interviews in English. 
Anyway, I then decided to take his word and changed my major to international relations to make most of my political science credits in Tokyo, and have become a public relations(PR) practitioner.

Two decades have past, and I am happy being a consultant at a Tokyo-based PR firm. So, I now appreciate the journalism professor who leaded me to PR indirectly.

That said, sometimes seemingly false accusations of PR firms in editorial articles, meaning pieces written by professional journalists, disappoint me.

As I quoted earlier, FT magazine (The invasion of corporate news, September 19, 2014) claims "For most journalists, PRs are spinners of favorable stories, glossers-over of unfavorable facts and gatekeepers standing between us and the people we want to get to."

Okay, let's clarify what PR means here.
I know PR, advertisement, marketing, it's all the same to most people, but I am in the position to clarify the deference when speaking of my profession.


The same confusion and oversimplification can be found in an article titled "PR firm responsible for EmmaYouAreNext.com hoax"  (Neowin, September 24, 2014).

It blames a PR firm responsible for a website that hoaxed the audience with the intention of shutting down an infamous messageboard, 4Chan. 

The Neowin article along with several others(International Business Times, Epoch Times) and and an anonymous post become sources of GIGAZINE article in Japanese on the following day, titled "Skillful PR Firm's Strategy Revealed Behind Emma Watson Nude Leak Trouble."


This made local PR firm professionals frowned and concerned of negative image of the industry.

I would resent misconduct of my counterparts if it were true.

So I looked for information of Rantic, the company behind the scene. 


Its website, rantic.com is now running "FEED THE HOMELESS OCTOBER" campaign, but no company profile or track record is posted.  

Yet, thanks to Google's cache and Scribd., its company profile, which was alive until the Neowin article came out, was found as quoted below. 


@Rantic Marketing

Some people want the unseen to be seen just for publicity, Ain't no secret.


Rantic , An organization that has adopted to the digital days of marketing.

The primary focus of our company is never to follow any traditional way of marketing, We always have come up with new creative ways to spread the message.

Hmmm, there is no statement that the company is a PR firm.

So, what I initially found disgraceful for PR firms seems to be a false accusation.

However the company is defined, though, a hoax is never an ethical conduct of any sort of business or people.

One thing I noticed related to PR is the word "publicity" Rantic used.

According to Wiki,

"Publicity" is the movement of information with the effect of increasing public awareness of a subject. Publicity is gaining public visibility or awareness for a product, service or your company via the media. It is the "publicist", a person whose job it is to generate and manage publicity for a public figure, that carries out publicity, while PR is the strategic management function that helps an organization communicate, establish and maintain communication with the public. From a marketing perspective, publicity is one component of promotion which is one component of marketing. 


Agreed. So, don't be confused.

It is true that the word "publicity" is often used in PR. Yet, that does not mean Rantic is a PR firm, especially because the company called itself an organization of digital marketing. 

In this case, rather than calling Rantic a PR firm, calling it a "publicist" would have been correct. 


I know PR, marketing, publicity, it's all the same to most people, but I am in the position to clarify the deference when speaking of my profession.


Anyhow, lessons learned here is "Don't believe what articles and people say until you confirm legitimacy or the source."


Going back to my own story, my advise to future grown-ups is "Be what you want to be." You know what you are good at and happy doing, that's the job you better do. But don't forget to make the both ends meet. Okay?



Oh boy, my boy doesn't seem to be listening a word of his mom... Time to go. 

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