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August 26, 2011

PRSA Applauds Guardian Effort to Increase Transparency in Reporting of Endorsements

In a letter to the editor of PRWeek in the publication’s Aug. 19 issue, Keith Trivitt, PRSA associate director of public relations, advocates for transparency in reporting of product endorsements in celebrity media features. The letter is in response to an Aug. 11 PRWeek article focusing on the announcement by U.K. newspaper The Guardian that its journalists should not agree to “promote products” in order to secure interviewees.

Opinion: From Feedback — Guardian’s PR plug ban meets mixed response
Published: Aug. 19, 2011

Plug demands make for uniform and boring copy

We welcome this new editorial guidance by The Guardian. The quid pro quo aspect of celebrity PR, in which "no plug, no interview" has dominated for years — both in the U.S. and the U.K. — has led to boring copy, lazy PR and the proliferation of sameness among some media outlets. For the media to truly differentiate itself in the digital age, and to add real value to readers' time and money spent on the product, they must find better ways to produce insightful and interesting reports that don't rely on outdated practices. In that regard, The Guardian appears to be leading the pact.
From a PR perspective, we see great value in this announcement. It continues to push public relations to adopt more stringent ethical standards and best practices. In an era where clients are demanding more proof of our value and clearer metrics, showing a plug for a product in an interview isn't exactly the best indicator of public relations' true business value.
Our value as public relations professionals is and should always be more than helping to plug a client's products or services. Modern public relations has evolved far beyond publicity. It is now a multifaceted management function. With that comes greater responsibility and external expectations to deliver value that isn't rooted in outdated tactics.
Keith Trivitt
Associate Director of Public Relations
Public Relations Society of America

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