Golden age of PR?

“We’re about to enter the golden age of PR,” Steve Rubel, senior vice president at Edelman, the “largest independent global PR firm,” aka Micro Persuasion, believes, as I cite in “Is PR the antidote to click fraud?”  Rubel at his blog recently in reaction to a Business Week story on click fraud:Search engine marketing, while certainly effective, can have its challenges too and clearly can be gamed.

“We’re about to enter the golden age of PR,” Steve Rubel, senior vice president at Edelman, the “largest independent global PR firm,” aka Micro Persuasion, believes, as I cite in “Is PR the antidote to click fraud?” 

Rubel at his blog recently in reaction to a Business Week story on click fraud:

Search engine marketing, while certainly effective, can have its challenges too and clearly can be gamed. Over time, people are going to say "enough." They're going to want companies to engage them in conversation before they are convinced they should buy. This is why I believe we're about to enter the golden age of PR.

I questioned Rubel’s assertions: 

PR can’t be gamed? Google does it all the time…

PR engages people in conversation before they buy?

Shopping magazine editorial is often a compilation of PR fueled, covert product placements. Local magazine restaurant editorial is often paraphrased press releases.

Public Relations is not the noble arm of integrated marketing communications; It is but one of its components, for both better and worse.

Regardless of the future, the current PR age may not be not so golden, according to Business Week which suggests possible gaming of bloggers’ stories on Wal-Mart:

It is well-known that Wal-Mart has bulked up on its public relations. Lately, the company has been working agressively with PR firm Edelman to influence public opinion by going beyond mainstream newspapers and magazines and reaching out to new media and the influential world of bloggers. The company provides exclusive bits of news and even suggests blogging topics.

Shel Holtz on the story:

a blog ostensibly authored by a couple traveling across America in their RV and spending nights parked in WalMart parking lots turned out to be a fake blog, the brainchild of WalMart’s PR counselors at Edelman. While fake blogs (and other fake social media) are nothing new, it’s dismaying to see it emerge from Edelman, which has some of the smarter new-media people on its staff (Phil Gomes, Michael Wiley, Steve Rubel and more), and which touts itself as the PR firm that truly gets social media….

Those smart PR folks working for Edelman are among the members of the PR community who advocate participation in the conversation. Some of them have been brutal when, to their way of thinking, somebody else fails to understand what it means to be engage in the conversation. So where is Edelman in this particular conversation? Missing in action. As dismaying as this latest misstep is, it’s even more dismaying to see Edelman’s high-powered social media experts failing to walk the talk. Nothing from Richard in his vaunted 6 a.m. blog. Nothing from Steve, who blogs at the pinnacle of PR’s A-list.

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