On Constantin Basturea’s recommendation, I’ve belatedly read through ‘The Cultural Tribes of Public Relations’ by Greg Leichty of the University of Louisville’s Department of Communication.

Through the liberal application of cultural theory, Leichty posits that there are five main viewpoints within discussion about public relations. These can be summarised as:

  1. Fatalist (a.k.a. Marvin the robot from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) – “PR’s rubbish and doesn’t really have an impact, either on the publics it seeks to influence or within the organisations that it’s part of. It’s just fluff really. Let’s all call it a day and go and find something worthwhile to do with our lives.”
  2. Egalitarian (idle, cynical and representing a depressingly large segment of the general population) – “PR’s evil, man. They’re trying to mess with our brains.”
  3. Hierarchical (the strongest viewpoint in the industry in the UK, coming through particularly loudly from representative bodies like the IPR and the PRCA) – “PR’s an established business discipline that needs to be taken more seriously by senior decision-makers in organisations. The way to get there’s through demonstrating our value with lots of charts and graphs.”
  4. Autonomous Individualist (the information provider, and potentially a journalist’s ideal PR person) – “I’m a helpful PR person, providing updates to journalists when we have product or company news, I’m not too pushy, and try to help out where I can.”
  5. Competitive Individualist (the schmoozer/bluffer) – “Sorry I’m late. I was out last night with Bob, a reporter on XYZ magazine. PR’s all about who you know, not what you know.  That coverage report you were after? Um…”

Ok, so maybe I’ve lost some of the nuances, but it’s still a nice framework to use when looking at blogging on PR.

Most industry blogs tend to come from a hierarchical viewpoint, sometimes with a smattering of the competitive individualist. I guess that’s not surprising, as the fatalists and autonomous individualists wouldn’t be making the effort to blog, and if you’re an egalitarian you’re not too likely to be inside the industry in the first place.

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