In the wake of the dot-com meltdown, PR people are asking themselves, "what can PR do now that the IPOs have dried up? Where's the story?" This roundtable featured PR experts with answers like the following:
No public relations agency in America benefited more from the Internet boom than Middleberg & Associates. By the year 2000, Middleberg had established itself as the authority on online media relations, but the dot-com meltdown also means leaner times for its PR firms. Last week, agency founder Don Middleberg closed the firm
The government of Ecuador is paying $180,000 to Burson-Marsteller.
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.
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