Digital Marketing in the 24/7 News Cycle

In the era of the instant reaction, particularly on television, journalists regularly act as any person does when forced to make a quick judgment: they follow the path of least resistance. So if society is condemning a client, it is easiest for the journalist to ride the wave. Being a contrarian is a lot of work, and few people, journalist or otherwise, have the willpower to avoid being swept up in the intoxicating tide of popular opinion. So if the PR pro can't blame the journalist, what is to be done when the media is questioning your judgment in client representation? Here are three thoughts: --Don't run away from the client: Unless you are clearly acting in an unethical manner through your representation of a client, don't let media heat chase you away. And don't hide if your reputation is at stake. Serve as your own advisor, develop facts and talking points, and solicit allies to explain the logic behind your work while also reminding the media and the public that the legal system isn't the only field where people have the right to representation. --Be proud of your work: A poll out of Australia this week showed that an increasing number of PR pros are shying away from using the term "public relations" and are now shifting toward the vague "communications" label. If this represents an evolution in the industry, so be it. But don't toss away your titles and your traditions just because some people are trying to drag your name through the mud. If you change your title, they can just as easily change their line of attack. Fight for your right to make an honest living. --Keep doing what you are doing: For every high profile "gotcha" piece about a PR firm's clientele, there will be dozens of clients who never cast a negative light back on the firm. Don't become too consumed by the chance for bad publicity. Like you tell your clients, have an internal crisis communications plan tucked away, and continue to provide the services you excel at delivering. What do you think? Does the 24/7 news cycle breed hypocrisy? Does it encourage populist groupthink? Or is there a different explanation?

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