“Content is a sh#tty business.” That’s what author Jeff Jarvis told the CEOs of America’s largest and best public relations firms last week at a the Content Frenzy! Conference in New York.

(Paraphrasing Jeff’s comments) He said PR folks don’t want to get into content. Just look at what’s happened to print journalism. The PR business should be about relationships. He kept coming back to that essential point during the course of the panel he participated in called, “Content Frenzy: Holy Grail … or Spam-a-Lot?”

Taking a page from his book “What Would Google Do?,” Jeff said PR firms would be better off doing things that obtained insight about clients. Does this mean no content –no blogs, thought leadership articles, infographics or tweets? No, but they must become a part of a mechanism and process to gain those crucial insights.

He took a bolder step, asking if it was better to set up a kind of marketplace where clients and prospects – and their clients and prospects — could send in questions and problems in search of the right kind of expertise. Or alternatively, PR firms and their clients could prospect for problems and challenges and offer ideas and analysis proactively to generate an exchange.

This is a departure from the typical way of looking at content strategy, as a way to use corporate journalism to tell the client’s story. Pragmatically it can mean designing content and channels within it that pull relationships together.

As we’ve discussed in past blogs, Greentarget is continually experimenting with and designing better ways to develop communications opportunities for our clients aimed at developing relationships for them. Jeff Jarvis’ thoughts certainly offer grist for that mill.