Letter to the Editor
The Houston Chronicle’s editorial on May 11, 2008, “Bad PR: Beware the district attorney's creation of a media office to manage the flow of public information,” unfairly paints all public relations practitioners with the same bad brush – as “flaks.” Saying that PR professionals are merely mouthpieces, acting without regard to public interest, is an inaccurate generalization of a profession whose main purpose is to bring organizations and communities closer together.
In reality, as newsroom staffs continue shrinking, journalists increasingly rely on PR professionals for assistance. Fewer reporters are burdened with covering more beats. Professional communicators are trained not to stonewall reporters, even when there is little information to be shared. The media may find communication with PR representatives "time-consuming and frustrating,” but accuracy is still the standard we all must strive for, even in a 24/7 news environment.
While PR professionals are proud advocates for companies and clients and perform a valuable service, our credibility still hinges on truth and open communication. The public benefits when both sides respect each other’s responsibilities.
A strong and ethical public relations program will enhance, rather than hinder, communication with the public. And until proven otherwise, The Chronicle should give the D.A.’s office the benefit of the doubt.
Priscilla Thorne Tinsley, PresidentPublic Relations Society of America Houston Chapter