Thursday, July 27, 2006

PRBusiness a missed opportunity

PR Business has fired its Editorial Team. It looks like curtains for the competitor to PRWeek in the UK.

Its web site still proclaims “The company publishes a lively and analytical weekly magazine, PR Business, and offers an associated website designed as a practical tool for all those working in PR.”

According to its correspondent Antony Mayfield, the former editor of PR Business, Eirwen Oxley Green, along with the rest of the editorial team at PR Business have been made redundant following the magazine's decision to go monthly. The conference it was sponsoring London PR Business Week, co sponsored by The International Communications Consultancy Organisation (ICCO) now looks a bit thin.

Geoff Lace, the publisher, has been around the industry for a long time. He set up in PR Week in 1984 when he was Marketing's executive editor and it was bought by Haymarket in 1988 .

He has missed an opportunity for want of New Media (or old fashioned Web 1.0) experience and understanding. By example, we still find the PRBusiness web site up and running with no mention of these recent changes.

This is not the only Online issue. Ex-Editor Eirwen Oxley-Green said that she “agreed with everyone's comments about the website: there were all sorts of grand discussions and promises made at the start, then everything stalled. I repeatedly asked our publisher to sort it out, to no avail.”

This is ironic after Geoff's comments that: “Emerging markets will offer the greatest and most exciting opportunities for PR operators over the next few years." Of all the emerging markets for PR, Social Media is the most significant for all practitioners. Lets take Estonia as an example. It is wired. It is the home of Skpe and would find PR 1.0 out of date.

To follow this idea through....

The combination of a publication built round a wiki ( without the troubles of the Ragan communications site) with a number of blogs, podcasts, vlogs plus contributions through YouTube video, with bookmarks Flickr, photo records and presence in a virtual community like Second Life was ready and waiting and a number of us would have been happy to help. We would have ensured that all stories and comments were tagged and had RSS feeds. The print version would have been all the richer. With the combined authority of its contributors and constituency, subject specific syndication of its content would have been sought after and transported across the world – this is an era of global communication after all.

Such an approach would have given PR Business, its journalists and contributors huge Google Juice (global online presence) and advertising opportunities and would have made the paper version a sought after commentary on the interactive contributions of staff, contributors and practitioners.

The opportunity to be associated with New Media would have been an outstanding USP. There would have been wonderful initiatives for example being a platform for exploring new communications opportunities such as the application of cellular text, voice and video; Virtual conferencing; the NewMediaRelease ( ); XPRL, and many other areas of necessary PR development. It would have been quite exciting.

That is not to say such a publications would eschew traditional practice. Far from it. It had the opportunity to expose such practice in its proper setting as part of the broad acres of communication and media relations beyond print, radio and television. It had the opportunity to explore the on-line effects of offline practice and the converse effects as well.

PRW, having gone behind its firewall and withdrawn its distribution to CIPR members (and then re-instated after pressure from PRBusiness – but selectively as I have not yet received my copy yet) has shown that its reality remains command, control, niche and elite, a platform for advertisers to scream at each other (behind firewalls and subscription only distribution, of course). It will take a long time for it to gain trust and reputation for transparency or participation among the 'got it' practitioners.

One day, a publisher will come along and I hope in the PR sector, with enough vision to provide a vehicle with vision.