I thought I was going to publish the rest of my “walking the social media talk” post today, but then something happened yesterday that I had to expound on rant about.

At 4:50 pm ET (I know, because I saved the email) I received a “breaking news” email from PRWeek: that a certain beverage company had selected a certain agency as its agency of record.

Image: silent silk via Flickr, Creative Commons

I. Kid. You. Not.

The supposedly prime trade media outlet of our industry sends out a breaking news email about the results of a “competitive review.”

Because of course, we all know those don’t happen every day.

Not.

Even better is this quote (you don’t even need subscriber access to read it, for which you should count yourself lucky):

“ ‘We’ve had growth, and there is a tremendous amount of great activities we want to act upon in 2011,’ said Joe Jacuzzi, VP of product and brand communications for PepsiCo Americas Beverages.”

Lovely.

“Great activities that they want to act upon.”

Didn’t anyone take Ann Wylie’s writing classes?

I’m sorry, but if this is what the “leading” trade publication of our industry is coming up with, I’m going to seriously rethink my subscription. Possibly even my profession.

OK, not my profession. That’s my irritation talking.

I’m not the only one irritated. Look at some of the comments on Facebook, when I posted my incredulity:

And those are comments coming from industry folk I respect greatly, namely Stephanie Wonderlick of SpeakerBox, Gini Dietrich, Lorne Pike and Gerry Corbett, APR, Fellow PRSA.

Now, I don’t know what prompted that ridiculous email, but I’ve received enough of them in the past to know that this is not a one-time deal with PRWeek.

It’s not that I’m suddenly down on the outlet.

I’ve been a fan of theirs in the past, and have certainly received some publicity through them, for which I’m grateful.

But over the last few years I’ve noticed them trending, for the most part, to either regurgitating content they find on the social Web or putting out nonsense like this.

“Breaking news” implies there is an urgency about the news being imparted. That it can’t wait until later. That you have to know it now.

Really? I couldn’t have waited for PRW’s daily newsletter – or, perhaps, checked its RSS feed – to read about this?

Because, you know, my world would fall apart if I didn’t know, right then and there, that a “competitive review” had been completed.

If we are going to change anything about the public relations industry in 2011, let’s change this:

That we will understand what constitutes “news” and “breaking news,” and not confuse one with the other.

That we will hold our trade media to the same standards that we hold each other.

That we will, collectively, stop exclaiming, hollering and yawping over what really, at the end of the day, isn’t going to make a dang difference in the way we conduct ourselves, our businesses and our lives.

That we will, collectively, examine the problem with PR and begin, brick by brick, to rebuild what you and I know is basically a decent business.

You with me?

Shonali Burke
Founder and publisher of Waxing UnLyrical, Shonali Burke helps smart businesses make bank by taking their communications from corporate codswallop to community cool™. She is also the founder of The Social PR Virtuoso®, which provides online, on-demand training that helps you unleash your inner Social PR superhero. Shonali is mad about ABBA, bacon, cooking, dogs, and Elvis, though not necessarily in that order. Wouldn't you like to be in her kitchen?
Shonali Burke