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  • Reply to: Edelman's Rescue Plan for the PR Industry   14 years 3 months ago
    A couple of responses to Bob & Sheldon re: Edelman.</p> <p>Every OTC company that goes public is virtually required to employ investor relations and public relations counsel. I have worked for many start-ups and entrepreneurs who didn't have deep pockets. They barely had a shirt on their back. Entrepreneurs may excel at the big idea and pulling together a team to realize their vision but they often need serious help in communicating their business plan to a broader audience.</p> <p>Yes, big corporations have deep pockets for big-money PR programs. They have a lot on the line and 30,000 to 150,000 employees and a slew of investors, vendors and partners who depend on their success. Like advertising and other forms of marketing, public relations is part of the process, whether you need to sell a product, service or idea.</p> <p>The PR programs that succeed in stalling legislation and swamping public debate are unfortunate and fail as often as they succeed. Political parties, in my mind, are the experts at this. Look at the important legislation and appointments pending in federal government and how both sides of the aisle pull out their big guns and spin slogans and threaten and posture on television and in print media like we are waging an ideological civil war. Okay, “everything” is not PR but business, law, politics, and even education depends on it. That’s a fairly broad constituency.</p> <p>How do we cut through this? Think of the single blogger who is credited with killing the new EU Constitution. You could say that he is an obstructionist. You could also say he is a hero and patriot. He didn't have a printing press or a lot of money or connections. He had an idea and conviction. He cut through the clutter and people responded and he was the catalyst who bucked the government-sponsored PR machine.</p> <p>Blogs (Internet communication) are altering history in many profound ways. When I say there are few secrets anymore I mean that every employee of every company now has a soapbox to tell the world about what really goes on inside the once-protected walls of the office. H-P, Sun, and Microsoft are examples of large corporations who encourage employees to blog without prior management approval. Look at how we were treated to the internecine struggles at Los Alamos, of all places, through a public blog. Citizen-journalists (I count myself as one) are on the rise and they are finding a growing number of credible, paying outlets. They are not dependent on corporate media politics and they are not afraid to inject their voice in the news.</p> <p>Anyway, weren't we talking about Edelman?</p> <p>Besides being a second-generation PR guy, he is CEO of a company that has nearly 2,000 employees in offices worldwide and a host of clients who are jittery about their flacks being public. He is putting his views out there for the public and employees to pick apart. I think that is exemplary and other CEOs should follow suit. The 500 influencers? A flawed idea. So? Carl Pavano pitches good games but the Yankees can’t seem to back him up with enough hits to win. Chances are you will see him on the mound again.</p> <p>The PRSA code of ethics? I don’t know, I never took the PRSA seriously. Public relations is such a fractured industry that I don’t know if it is possible to have a unifying body. It may be up to each PR firm to develop their own code. We can then judge clients, and PR firms, by how closely they adhere to that code. News outlets are going through the same struggle as they discover journalists fabricating sources and sales people conspiring to inflate circulation figures.</p> <a href="http://www.markrose.org" >See Mark Rose biography</a>
  • Reply to: Edelman's Rescue Plan for the PR Industry   14 years 3 months ago
    <p>Firstly Mark thanks for reading "Edelman's Rescue Plan for the PR Industry" and taking the time to respond. Sorry it's taken me so long to get around to responding but Sheldon has covered a number of my points in the meantime. </p> <p>But anyway, thought I'd still respond on some of your points. Firstly, I don't object to Edelman [[blogging]] at all – in fact I think we are furious agreement that it is a good thing. What I do contest is his suggestion that his five point plan would effectively address the ethical problems in the PR industry.</p> <p>You suggest that I have it in for the entire [[Public relations industry|PR industry]]. I divide the PR industry into three rough groupings – a) those activities which most people would agree are genuinely in the public interest (for example [[crisis management]] for natural disasters, tobacco control programs etc); b) those that could be classified as mostly harmless (which may involve event management, doing websites or annual reports etc); and c) those where PR is employed to ensure private or government interests dominate public policy debates about the health, social or environmental impacts of policies, products or technologies. </p> <p>The amount of work in the first category is relatively small while the 'mostly harmless' campaigns accounts for a larger chunk. My interest - and I suspect that of most citizens - primarily lies in what falls into the third category. (Think, for example, of the [[tobacco industry]]).</p> <p>Now for the more substantive points you raised on which we disagree. Yes "we all promote ourselves and our views". But if you are suggesting that that individuals advocating their point of view should be viewed as no different from what the PR industry does for its clients, then I disagree. </p> <p>Citizens' expressing their sincerely held points of view is something to be encouraged in a democracy. However, what the PR industry does is to largely cater for deep-pocketed corporations and government agencies. Often the greater the clients' controversy, the bigger the budget a PR company (or in-house department) will have to try and swamp public concern about their products or policies. </p> <p>Of course there are many big-budget PR campaigns that fail or backfire. But there are also many PR campaigns that succeed in stalling, if not preventing, important public policy changes. Their success relies not on the merit of the argument but simply on having more cash to fuel a stalling strategy.</p> <p>One of the significant evolutions in democratic practice last century was the shift in many countries from the property franchise to the universal franchise. It was recognition that the right to vote belonged to each individual irrespective of their wealth or sex. Part of the disquiet about the trends in modern democracy is how money politics is trying to reassert control – whether it is through political donations or by hiring lawyers, lobbyists or PR professionals.</p> <p>The reality is that the PR industry primarily caters for those who can afford its expensive services. (Yes, some companies do pro bono work for some non-profit groups or individuals but it really is a tiny, tiny percentage of what the industry does).</p> <p>Now I'd love to think that a wave of corporate and government glasnost is sweeping the world and will ensure that "there are few secrets anymore beyond deep, proprietary information." But I don’t see the evidence that would justify such optimism. By way of illustration, why is it that the client lists of so many PR firms are not disclosed?</p> <p>(Perhaps you could suggest some examples that illustrate your point just so I’m not misinterpreting what you meant).</p> <p>Sheldon has covered the problems with Edelman’s "500 influencers" idea well. I would take Edelman's enthusiasm for a more enforceable industry wide code of ethics and a code for his own company a little more seriously if he articulated a coherent position on video news releases (VNRs).</p> <p>But he doesn't. Instead what he proposes would amount to ending the deception of viewers of government VNRs but perpetuating it for those on the receiving end of corporate VNRs. It may be a pragmatic position but let's not pretend it's an ethical one. If Edelman can’t adopt a coherent position on VNRs why should we think an in-house code is going to be any better on issues that aren’t currently in the public spotlight?</p> <p>While I don't doubt you when you wrote that after 20 years in the industry you weren't aware of the [[Public Relations Society of America]]'s code of ethics, this surprises me. I had been under the impression that most people in the industry would have been aware of the PRSA's code, perhaps somewhat vaguely, even if they aren’t members.</p> <p>There are numerous problems with both the content and enforcement of codes of ethics in the PR industry, which I'll try to cover in a blog entry in the near future. However, the point in my previous blog was that [[Richard Edelman]] should articulate what exactly would make the enforcement of a new code more effective than the failings the PRSA experienced with the old one.</p> <p>Once again, thanks for taking the time to read and respond.
  • Reply to: The Color TV of Fear   14 years 4 months ago
    This is the one that you should have chosen for today. Real fathers who are not treated like real men. On father's day, I should be noted as the only father who has fought the long journey of 10 years to be the custodial parent of his children, but do not have them with me and paying child support to a dead beat mother. To define deadbeat, is to say a person who avoids working to keep from paying support. If you ever want to see an unworthy use of the court system in Wisconsin, investigate this. Family court case 96FA002179 and 96FA001474. This under the divorce order where Dane County thinks it is fit for four preteen and teenage children from three different fathers to live with a woman on section 8 in a two bedroom apartment. The real concern here is this woman is a true alcoholic and drug user. In spiteful means is using the free reign she has of appointed case workers and counsel to swindle money out of a person who has legal custody and placement of these children to support her habit. To use her children and status to avoid paying utility and other bills in the winter, because under the county or state rule of service can't be turned off or evicted in the winter months. How ironic is this? Imagine a father who lives in Florida with his children and they come to Wisconsin to visit their mother that would not see them for two years and she doesn't send them back. She calls her case worker who automatically starts an old support order without asking the father. Now, he is stuck to defend himself long distance or take the chance of coming to Wisconsin to be arrested for not paying. The court loses my documents for getting the children back, but has hers which are filed by her guardian ad litem. Isn't the guardian ad litem to find the "best interest" of the children? How can you do that if you don't know the environment in which they live. I am sorry for the long response. But, if you want a noteworthy story. Tell this story of the military veteran who has been to Libya and the Persian Gulf, who can't have his family because of the system that he fought to protect. What good is it to be alive from the war, when you have no family to come back home to.I know many veterans that can attest to that. Lester Shields
  • Reply to: The Rise of 'Newsvertisements'   14 years 4 months ago
    Once again we're being given, unfortunately, what we want -- more and more entertainment news rather than news about more important issues. Look across the dial and that's what Americans want today. As for disclosing their "financial interest," that seems kind of silly in this case. The stations are pretty clear in pointing out that the shows air on their stations -- they even give the date and time. It's such obvious promotion that a disclosure would add nothing. There are bigger issues here. www.mediaorchard.com
  • Reply to: Still in the Torturers' Lobby   14 years 4 months ago
    What a shame that you received US$ 675,000 from an African despot plotting to have a life presidency cum monarch to improve his image among the international community. That money is part of the donations we get from our development partners. Where is the moral obligation we can learn from your firm? Do you remember Mobutu Sese seko of Zaire and how he ended up? As an enlightened Ugandan I know that Museveni is just the old school dictator type who has literary bought our poor legislators with little money that you may even laugh at (@ USD 3,000) to get permanent residency at state house. What you are doing for him is good for your pockets BUT bad for our poor banana republic. Anyway, I know that you can polish Lucifer's image as long as he pays up! Go ahead! Munauganda in Kampala.

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