Now that Philip Morris has apologized for its role in commissioning a report claiming that the Czech Republic benefits from the premature deaths of smokers, the August 6 issue of PR Week asked PR pros, "How can Philip Morris regain PR ground following the publication of the Czech report?" Advice from the experts included:
After Children's Memorial Hospital, a private hospital in Chicago, refused to treat 11-year-old Ana Esparza because she was uninsured and could not afford a life-saving liver transplant, Miami's Jackson Memorial Hospital agreed to do the surgery for only $225,000 -- discounted from the normal $500,000 cost of the procedure.
Nike has created a website offering an online virtual tour of one of its factories in Vietnam, claiming that the tour demonstrates its commitment to continuous improvement in labor practices overseas. A year in the making, the video depicts a clean, well-run factory where workers are well-treated. But according to Jason Mark, a spokesman for San Francisco-based Global Exchange, a labor rights group, "It seems more like a publicity stunt than a genuine effort to make systematic changes across the board.
This CNN interview with Bob Druckenmiller, CEO of the Porter Novelli PR firm, gives his thoughts on PR aspects of the Ford/Firestone tire fiasco. "It could be a public relations firm's dream. I mean, you've got a chance to go in and be a hero, and there's very little downside," observed the CNN interviewer. Druckenmiller replied: "True. I think any crisis is an opportunity, both for a public relations firm and for a company to be a hero in terms of how they react to it."
Ross Irvine, corporate activist and president of ePublic Relations, points out how business PR can learn from anti-biotech activists and NGOs. Irvine recommends taking a broader view of the issue, going beyond traditional allies and PR activities. According to Irvine, "With creative thinking a great deal of synergy among biotech and other issues is possible and essential."
In a recent memo titled "Talking to the Press," Polk Laffoon, Knight Ridders's VP for corporate relations, laid out some media relations "rules of thumb" for the company's executives, publishers, and editors. In the memo, which was leaked to the Philadelphia Weekly, Laffoon writes: "Reporters who want to do take-outs on the company virtually always have an agenda. If the agenda isn't friendly (often the case), we muster whatever facts and figures we can to refute or blunt it. Although it would be rare that a reporter changes the agenda based on what we say, we can have an impact.
Calling his current jobless status "an exciting, much-needed opportunity to reassess my direction in life," former Porter Novelli public-relations executive Josh Wallace has great things to say about unemployment reports the Onion, a satirical newspaper. "I wasn't fired so much as my job was one of the positions phased out through the outsourcing of certain activities and the restructured insourcing of others, " Wallace said. See also O'Dwyer's PR story.
This essay by PR industry writer Paul Holmes examines the pros and cons of the "attack dog" strategy advocated by PR specialists in crisis management such as the firm of Nichols-Dezenhall, which urges corporations to "get in the trenches and fight" against activists. "It
"Future generations may look back on this as the Century of the Spokesperson," comments Washington Post reporter Linton Weeks. "The Mouthpiece Millennium. The Night of the Living Flacks. Only a year and half into the 2000s and already we've seen: Marina Ein for Rep. Gary Condit and lawyer Billy Martin for Chandra Levy's family. Elizabeth Quigley for the family of confessed child-drowner Andrea Yates. William Shatner for Priceline.com. Cheryl Ladd for Presbyopia Awareness Month. And Tiger Woods for everything else."
PR Watch reported in 1997 that the Burson-Marsteller PR firm created the Global Climate Coalition. They've never challenged this statement prior to July 2001, but after they issued a denial we checked our files, and it looks like we were wrong. This doesn't change the fact that B-M has been a major force behind industry campaigns to block measures aimed at preventing global warming. For a report on what they've actually done, read our correction.