Editor’s note: Local Tech Wire welcomes submissions for its “Say Something” Op/Ed feature. Have something to say? Send ideas to Managing Editor Rick Smith (rsmith8@nc.rr.com). You’ve probably heard this lawyer joke:

“What do you call 10,000 lawyers chained to the bottom of the sea?”

“A good start.”

Perhaps there should be a PR version of that joke:

“What do you call 10,000 PR people chained to the bottom of the sea?”

“Major water pollution.”

PR professionals are often considered fairly low on the food chain. After all, it’s our brethren that actually try to get media coverage for attention-loving lawyers, awful TV shows, crooked politicos, ego-maniacal celebrities, and technology that promises the world but delivers heartburn.

For most people, using “PR” and “integrity” together is the ultimate oxymoron. Not exactly bread and butter, Fred and Ginger, or even Pamela and Kid Rock. But, there can be pride even in what’s perceived as the lowliest of professions. More importantly, there are ways — superior ways one could argue — of being effective in PR without hyperbole and bombast. And there’s no better time to consider this approach than today.

An intelligent, low-key, service-based approach has become especially welcome as we nurse our hangover from the loud revelry that characterized communication during the dot com boom.

You remember the days: every product was a new paradigm, a disruptive force that promises to reinvent a market, a platform for creating whole new industries we never knew we needed. Not only did many companies write about their products and services this way, but many of our media outlets got swept away in the swollen stream of adjectives.

Be knowledgeable, honest

Still, through it all, what works best in PR is what has always worked: being a knowledgeable, honest source of information. That doesn’t mean being a gray-striped suit in a room full of attractive pastels. Take technology, for example. If your product is different, does something better, and makes someone’s life and/or work easier or more enjoyable, it is inherently exciting. And there are ways of writing about it in a factual, no-nonsense style that still captures the sense of wonder, intrigue and promise of new technology. This is an approach that generates a greater depth of interest and respect. It’s like a great meal compared to a sugary snack.

Companies and their PR people need to resist the urge to scream, shout and pound their chests like children or crazed fans. That’s especially true as we flounder in the midst of corporate deception. Don’t curb your enthusiasm, but substantiate it. You’ll find that when you engage in an intelligent, two-way conversation with the media, your customers, and potential customers, you’ll be treated better by all of them. And, if you listen, you’ll get a lot of great feedback that you can integrate into your future work.

In a time of deception, half-truths and lack of responsibility, simple integrity can be a powerful differentiating agent. Rather than the antithesis of PR, integrity should be the rock-solid foundation for it. It makes you more valuable to the organizations for which you are working, the media that you are working with, and customers and potential customers who deserve clear, accurate information. Oh, and one other benefit: it makes you feel good.

Bob Cramblitt is president of Cramblitt & Company, a PR and marketing firm serving computer and electronics technology companies.

Cramblitt & Company: www.cramco.com