Recent comments

  • Reply to: Edelman's Rescue Plan for the PR Industry   14 years 4 months ago
    <p>Interesting argument from Mark Rose.</p> <ul><li>First he makes the rather ludicrous claim that "all communications is PR." This is an old dodge that goes back to the days of [[sw:Edward Bernays]]," who included everything from the Sermon on the Mount to Shakespeare's plays in his list of examples of "public relations." On the basis of a similarly overstretched definition, Rose then makes a straw man argument: since "all communications is PR," any critique of unethical public relations must by definition be demanding "a world of silence," which we all know is unrealistic.</li> <li>Then Rose shifts gears and begins talking about the "traditional systems of PR control," which he says are "fading fast." But if PR's "traditional systems" are about "control," that's quite a different thing from the other types of communications that Rose would have us believe are also PR. Posting a personal ad or producing a work of art is not a "system of control," but the public relations industry <i>is</i>. It's an organized effort to control the thinking of a target population, which is why Bob Burton was quite correct to describe public relations as "propaganda."</li> <li>Finally, Rose attempts to distinguish between "good PR" and "bad PR," offering some rather vague generalities about what constitutes the difference. I agree that there's a difference between good and bad PR, but the areas where Rose gets vague are precisely those areas where the differences between good and bad PR need to be clearly defined.</li> </ul> <p>By contrast, Bob Burton's commentary <i>was</i> specific. He didn't criticize PR simply for "all being bad." He criticized Edelman on the very specific basis of having been part of some of the recent scandals that have brought the public relations industry into further disrepute. Bob also pointed out that Edelman's proposed solutions to its image problem - such as cultivating a list of "500 influencers" - remain firmly within the industry's traditional "systems of control" paradigm and fail to fix the lack of transparency for which Edelman and other PR firms have rightly been criticized.</p> <p>Deliberate lack of transparency is the signature characteristic of virtually all unethical public relations, whether it be the creation of deceptive [[sw:front groups]], [[sw:video news releases]] in which paid spokespersons pretend to be reporters, or pundit-on-the-payroll scandals like the [[sw:Armstrong Williams]] affair. And there's a reason why these scandals keep happening. The public relations industry (as opposed to the work of "some artists" or "everybody who posts a personal ad") is a "system of control" in which the thing the PR firms try to control is public opinion. For the purpose of efficiency in achieving that control, it helps if the public doesn't know that those video news releases are paid spots, that [[sw:Karen Ryan]] isn't a reporter, or that Armstrong Williams has actually been paid a quarter of a million dollars to praise the Bush administration's education policy. Lack of transparency in these cases isn't an accidental oversight. It's part of the system.</p>
  • Reply to: Oil Lobbyist Becomes White House Climate Science Editor   14 years 4 months ago
    The highly Orwellian characteristics of the current administration are blatantly apparent. This latest bit is reminiscent of 'Newspeak' in "1984," wherein the main character's job - his name escapes me - is to alter newspaper headlines to reflect the Party's position. We're winning the war, unemployment is down, production is up, and tomorrow your chocolate ration will be increased. The global corporate oligarchy continues its unwitting move toward totalitarianism, guided by simpletons who tell us that their actions serve our best interest while lining their pockets, while supposedly free people blindly accept their doctrine. "Ignorance is Strength." - Orwell. Jerome Alicki
  • Reply to: Edelman's Rescue Plan for the PR Industry   14 years 4 months ago
    Bob Burton's slam against Edelman "propaganda" is naiive and displays a full-fledged bias that is disingenuous. If you want to hate the public relations business in toto then you don't have to pretend to objectively analyze it. Everything that comes from the White House, or any other politician, from executives, lawyers, many artists, or even PR Watch, can be considered public relations. Maybe a world of silence would be free of propaganda but we all promote ourselves and our views. Everybody who posts a personal ad can be accused of "spin."</p> <p> With the ubiquity of the Internet the traditional forms of PR control are fading fast. There are few secrets anymore beyond deep, proprietary information. Big companies like Hewlett-Packard and Sun and Microsoft encourage employees to publicly blog without prior management approval. This is the big shift in communication that Edelman is addressing. Edelman should be commended for starting a blog and allowing comment, and exposing himself to slams by PR Watch. If his "500 influencers" is a flawed idea then he is at least trying. Does Burton have a better idea, outside of PR simply disappearing (as likely as lawyers disappearing). </p><p> Good PR is about telling your story effectively and concisely. Good PR helps you better understand yourself and your audience. Bad PR is when you hide the source of information, inflate billings, and falsely promote. The challenges of public relations strong equates with the legal profession. You can win in court and lose in public opinion.</p><p> Web sites like this one radically alter the game. Good PR people will try to understand this powerful, ubiquitous media and operate openly and appropriately within it. Bad PR people will attempt to manipulate and co-opt it. They will fail because the Internet is unforgiving and a cached document can live forever.<p></p> I have worked in public relations for 20 years and I was never a member of PRSA and was not aware of their code of ethics. There is no single body that speaks for the industry. Due to recent scandals many top PR firms (like Edelman) are formalizing and strictly enforcing a code of ethics. The same could be said of journalism, with the advent of the "Public Editor" and new avenues for readers to file editorial complaints.</p><p> Full disclosure: I worked at Edelman Worldwide in New York for one year, until July, 1999. I occasionally post to Richard's blog and have my own blog on PR. <a href="" >See Mark Rose biography</a>
  • Reply to: Sowing Seeds of Discontent   14 years 4 months ago
    I wonder how many of these states are red or blue. One thing is sure : you're likely to see much green in the Governors' pockets. Stephane MOT
  • Reply to: The Passion of Fake Radio News   14 years 5 months ago
    This practice has been going on for decades. Not just for movies, but music artist's new releases as well. It was a great way for small market stations to sound larger. No big deal.