With the lines between journalism and P.R. becoming more blurred, government agencies could benefit from hiring journalists to work for them rather than or to augment dishing out millions to P.R. professionals.
L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky has invested public funds to develop a website that is essentially a news website with former newspaper journalists writing content that seems every bit as good as the stuff they wrote for the paper.
L.A. County’s transit agency has a crew doing blogging. Both operations have become publications respected in the mainstream media. Sure, they don’t step on the toes of their bosses but its still a great service and more homely than navigating the websites of departments at the city of L.A. or state of California.
Instead of 50 state agencies paying say $10 million total each year trying to get their messages out with the help of a bunch of a different contractors, what if there was one team of 10 people with a greater degree of institutional and technical knowledge leading those efforts. Even if some of them work as independent contractors, people would view them more as a permanent fixture than as some outside P.R. guy or gal.
Rather than relying on ad buys on say LATimes.com, the agencies could focus more on getting the word out through cheaper techniques like say good old SEO and strong content.