“Fear and loathing” is a phrase made famous in several memorable books by “gonzo” journalist Hunter S. Thompson. But it’s not a bad way to describe the current state of relations between PR people and the ever-confusing media world.
Fear permeates most companies today, and PR has become less a way of telling a good story than a means to react to all that could harm your organization.
Fear makes executives and media relations people do really dumb things, like holding fake press conferences or posting to blogs under a false identity. These kinds of shenanigans never work, except to persuade any reporter that you and your company are conniving SOBs. (That’s where the loathing comes in.)
Of course, media organizations are just as scared these days, by declining readership and falling ad rates and most of all by the Internet, which has stolen their thunder as the sole authority on, well, anything.
That makes reporters do dumb things, too, like make up sources and overhype their stories. That generates a fair amount of loathing from the PR folks, who are certain that reporters have no interest in getting the facts straight if it doesn’t suit them. In other words, they are conniving SOBs.