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26/07/2006

Sad footnote to PR Business saga

The former editor of PR Business, Eirwen Oxley Green, talong with the rest of the editorial team at PR Business have been made redundant.

This follows the magazine's decision to go monthly after failing to win enough advertising support to take on PR Week.

The redundancies were handed out on Friday. 

Sources close to the magazine say that the PR Business board was embarrassed by  Eirwen's challenging editorial line on CIPR (the UK's PR trade body) Director General Colin Farrington's comments about blogs, according to sources close to the ex-magazine.

Colin Farrington himself has made it clear that there was no threat to withdraw the PR Business access to the CIPR mailing list.

PR Business had been mailed out free to members of the CIPR, a smart move initially as PR Week had controversially moved to a paid subscription model last year - and many agencies went from having a copy per person in the office to sharing one or two between twenty or thirty.

But in what could be seen as an outflanking move, PR Week recently announced that it would be likely to send copies to all CIPR members, effectively removing PR Business's USP for advertisers.

Anyway, its very sad news, and I wish Eirwen and the team the best of luck in finding new jobs.

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Comments

This is really sad news and I wish the team all the best for the future. I enjoy reading PRWeek, but it was nice to have a wider choice in reading materials. PRWeek have, at the first signs of competition, gone into full attack mode and raised the barriers to market entry and effectively destroyed all competition possibilities.

Does this mean that there will only ever be PRWeek and no other PR magazines in the future?

I think the question may be: will there ever be any more trade magazines again in the future?

In fairness to PR Week, it is their job to compete hard - that's markets for you.

PR Business's big missed opportunity was not to take the online high ground at all - i.e. create a strong online PR brand. That's still wide open while PR Week's pay-walls still stand.

Alex, there are a lot of people out there in PR who want to read something other than PR Week (either alongside it or instead of it).

Unfortunately PR Business simply didn't provide strong enough competition. While the features were often better, the news pages were generally weaker. And let's not talk about the layout.

Perhaps it was down to money. It doesn't seem due to any lack of effort, judging from recent comments by Eirwen.

Like Antony, I think that PR Business missed the big opportunity - capture the online ground. It's there for the taking and is very 'now'.

If I was the board of PRB, I'd be thinking less a print monthly and more web.

Sorry, late in adding any comment on all of this (just returned from hols) but I find it all quite sad. PRW needed a bit of healthy competition and, to be fair, they raised their game because of it.

But what I find really sad is the board's alleged embarrassment of the editor's recent comments of the CIPR. That was good journalism in my humble opinion. Should an industry mag agree with everything the industry body says/does? Of course not!

Good luck Eirwen and the rest of the PRB staff.

Slight delay in getting back on Antony's blog - I was actually made redundant on the second day of my holiday - nice - and got back earlier today.

I agree with everyone's comments about the website: there were all sorts of grand discussions and promises made at the start, then everything stalled. I repeatedly asked our publisher to sort it out, to no avail.

I agree that it's a huge opportunity missed; I feel very sad that all our hard work has been wasted.

I have to disagree about the comment about the design, though: the inital effort was rubbish, yes, but I kicked up a fuss and we got a decent team in who did a great job for the past couple of months.

So adieu, rather than goodbye I hope, and thanks to everyone who has emailed me to offer their support. I'm very grateful.

Of course the CIPR is big enough to withstand criticism. It is in PR after all. As a Profession we need robust critics. Robust critics from within are even more valuable.

I too was sad that the publishers missed the opportunity to build a big online presence. It was a heaven-sent opportunity.

The combination of a publication built round a wiki with a number of blogs, podcasts, vlogs, YouTube video, with del.icio.us bookmarks Flickr, photo records and presence in a virtual community like Second Life was ready and waiting and a number of us would have been happy to help. We would have ensured that all stories and comments were tagged and had RSS feeds. The print version would have been all the richer. With the combined authority of its contributors and constituency, subject specific syndication of its content would have been sought after and transported across the world – this is an era of global communication after all.

Such an approach would have given PR Business, its journalists and contributors huge Google Juice and advertising opportunities and would have made the paper version a sought after commentary on the interactive contributions of staff, contributors and practitioners.

The opportunity to be associated with New Media would have been an outstanding USP. There would have been wonderful initiatives for example being a platform for exploring new communications opportunities such as the application of cellular text, voice and video; Virtual conferencing; the NewMediaRelease (http://groups.google.com/group/newmediarelease ); XPRL, and many other areas of necessary PR development. It would have been quite exciting.

That is not to say such a publications would eschew traditional practice, far from it. It had the opportunity to expose such practice in its proper setting as part of the broad acres of communication and media relations beyond print, radio and television. It had the opportunity to explore the on-line effects of offline practice and the converse effects as well.

PRW, having gone behind its firewall and withdrawn its distribution to CIPR members (and then re-instated – but selectively as I have not yet received my copy yet) has shown that its reality remains command, control, niche and elite, a platform for advertisers to scream at each other. It will take a long time for it to gain trust and reputation for transparency or participation among the 'got it' practitioners.

One day, a publisher will come along and I hope in the PR sector, with enough vision to provide a vehicle with vision.

I've been directed here after reading the story on the Press Gazette's website today. I'd like to add my voice to those wishing Eirwen and her team well - I'd never really felt PR Week was talking to me and found PR Business's features much more relevant. As someone who was then commissioned to write for the mag, she was also a pleasure to deal with and how often can you say that about an editor?

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