If you want to hear an entertaining conversation about the evolving philosophy and practice of public relations—these do not come along every day—then listen to this interview from last week. New media mavens Shel Holtz and Neville Hobson interview ink-stained PR publisher Jack O'Dwyer on their podcast, For Immediate Release.
By turns, O'Dwyer plays the role he's played throughout his 40 years covering the PR industry: communication dinosaur, sage critic, industry gadfly and borderline maniac.
During the interview, O'Dwyer rips corporate PR people for being terrified of reporters, he characterizes PR agency people as lazy dullards who don't know how to hustle, he blames the PR industry in part for the global recession, he accuses PRSA of not having the "cajones" to employ PR people in its headquarters.
Meanwhile, Holtz and Hobson try to hide their astonishment at his views and their intensity, and at times there are long pauses the podcasters struggle to understand what (in God's name) O'Dwyer is talking about and Hobson especially seems to wonder whether he's actually serious. (He is.)
And O'Dwyer, in turn, misunderstands the intentions of his interviewers' comments and questions, at one point taking pains to answer Holtz's rhetorical remark, "What is the ROI of a round of golf?"
What's to be said of an industry where two consecutive generations of practitioners are so far apart philosophically they struggle to understand even what it is the other is saying?