A PR artifact

The school year is hitting the home stretch and spare time is getting harder and harder to find. But sometimes it’s just fun to go down the proverbial rabbit hole for a little while.

I did that this afternoon, actually while in search of something related to a course in public relations and social media that I’ll be teaching this fall. On one of my bookshelves I unearthed this notebook that I hadn’t opened in a while.


Longtime PR practitioners may recognize this publication. It’s a wonderful newsletter called pr reporter, to use creator, editor and publisher Patrick Jackson‘s idiosyncratic non-capitalization, and its last issue was published 16 years ago.

I intended to look at it for a few minutes and then move on to more urgent matters. Then I discovered the website I’ve linked to above and that was it for a while. I’ve got two years of it in three-ring binders that I’ve had since my early years at Wingate, but out there in cyberspace, the entire 22-year run of the newsletter has been digitized. If you’re in public relations, it’s worth a long visit.

Before I go on, a little background on Patrick Jackson, who died in March 2001,  and one brief anecdote.  I found this blog post which explains better than I can his approach to PR. He was years ahead of his time in his belief that PR should consist of multi-way communication, that people should have a voice in the decisions that have impact on them, and that face-to-face communication, even in an era of rapidly-developing technology was still the best way to develop trust.

And he found interesting ways to get his message across. I was fortunate enough to attend one presentation by the great man, at a convention of the National School PR Association in Phoenix in the summer of 1981. What I specifically remember about that encounter was the point that communicators shouldn’t be afraid of incongruity — a point that Jackson told us he had hoped to make by conducting his workshop in a t-shirt and walking shorts. He admitted that the message was undercut a little by the fact that it was 110 degrees outside and pretty much everyone was dressed that way. But the point has lingered with me all these years, so mission accomplished.

But back to the newsletters. My afternoon diversion was a pretty cool trip back in time, as the subject matter touched on many issues timely to that almost quarter-century, from the PR implications of AIDS testing in the workplace, to the impact of FCC de-regulation and striking a balance between recognition of diversity and political correctness.

It was also interesting to re-visit what it was like in the days before the Internet and social media (ironically, the subject of my original search) became an integral part of PR practice.

In this day and time, of course, the most efficient way to deliver a newsletter is digitally. But pr reporter is a reminder that regardless of how it gets to a reader, a newsletter is still a great tool to get information to a niche audience with a high level of interest in the topic.

And now back to work…….

About theoldperfessor

I'm a college professor, teaching journalism and public relations classes at a small private university, and a freelance writer.
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