PR: The Dark Side of Writing

Last week, I had two different writers tell me that they had “gone to the dark side” — that they were working on public relations projects. At the time, I didn’t pay much attention: doesn’t everyone describe PR as the dark side of writing? I first heard it described as such when I was interning at the Tulsa World in college. There was a constant stream of reporters leaving the paper for PR jobs.

In general, writers tend to look down on PR work. It pays well, but there is a sense that we’re doing something that just isn’t right. But why? Truthfully, I can’t think of anything wrong with public relations in and of itself. Sure, I’ve known many PR ‘professionals’ who were a bit out of line, but there’s nothing wrong in my mind with working as the advocate of one particular company.

For freelancers in particular, and writers in general, I think it’s time for a change. There should be no shame in taking on PR projects. We’ve all made fun of a website with poorly written copy or a company spokesman unable to communicate properly. There’s no reason that we should be uncomfortable with helping a company improve their communications.

PR work pays good money and, to be honest, it’s easier to build a writing business on press releases and copy writing than it is on long form magazine articles.

1 Comment

  1. Jaclyn   •  

    Interesting post. As a journalist who now works in PR, I appreciate you taking the time to make this observation.

    I do think PR gets a bad rap. Depending on what is being promoted, some PR can actually be very valuable for journalists and the public interest. It seems that the few “bad” PR professionals out there who waste journalists’ time and hype things that don’t deserve hype or manipulate the facts give the job a bad name.

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