MSNBC's Brash Dan Abrams Goes into PR

Last Updated Nov 21, 2008 8:06 AM EST

The rush of journalists out of the media and into PR continues. Yesterday came word that the managing editor of the San Jose Mercury News had left the paper to become a PR guy and open the Silicon Valley office of Sitrick & Co. Now, Dan Abrams, late of MSNBC (his show was booted to make room for Rachel Maddow) has opened Abrams Research, which claims it will "connect business leaders with top media professionals around the world."

Abrams doesn't plan to do it the old-fashioned way, through what we PR people call "media relations." No, his business plan seemingly calls for his company to pay working journalists and others to "offer insights, data and personnel never before available to businesses." (We'll see how that goes down with their bosses)

I'd say Abrams already has one PR skill down: spin.

I'm sure with his high profile, Abrams will snag a few clients. But then he's going to find out how the PR business really works, and he might be in for a bit of shock.

You see, if journalists really had the ability to advise businesses on mission-critical communications and strategic issues, they wouldn't be journalists. They would be high level strategists. (Take David Axelrod, former political reporter and Obama's chief strategist, as a prime example.)

Journalists are, for the most part, dreamy storytellers, many with an inflated view of their importance and the uniqueness of their opinions and views.

But once they get out into the for-profit business world, in my experience, they quickly realize that PR isn't nearly as easy as they think.

Here's an example from Abrams' site of the value-add he imagines he will provide:

A video game distributor is seeking an assessment of how blogs in a particular market will react to its new product. Abrams Research can reach out to the most influential industry bloggers and present an overview of their opinions on a particular marketing message.
Good luck selling that exclusive service, Dan.

PS -- Abrams is hedging his bets, too. He'll keep his job as MSNBC's legal analyst.

  • Jon Greer

    Jon Greer has been analyzing media and PR for more than 25 years. He's been a journalist and a PR executive, and has been a featured speaker for many years at the Bulldog Reporter Media Relations Summit, and served as Bulldog's Editorial Director for their PR University series of weekly how-to audio conferences.

    Jon provides PR services including media relations and freelance writing to clients including start-ups, law firms, corporations, investment banks and venture capital firms. In addition, Jon provides spokesperson training. Learn more about Jon's training programs at The Media Bridge.