In the aftermath of September 11, the United States will have to abandon its "go-it-alone" Fortress America policies, according to PR executive Robert Dilenschneider.
Public relations people are not all bad -- a fact that probably gets insufficient mention at PR Watch (sorry, guys). Mark Bingham was CEO of The Bingham Group, a PR firm with offices in San Francisco and New York. He was also aboard United flight 93 when it went down in Pennsylvania on September 11, and he is believed to be one of the passengers who stormed the cockpit and brought down the plane before it could hit Washington. His friends and family have established a website in his honor.
A well-funded business front group, the Washington Legal Foundation, is one of many using September 11th to condemn the patriotism of public interest activists.
Rep. Scott McInnis of the GOP wants leading green groups to denounce eco-terror, though they're already on record against it. Is he using Sept. 11 to crack down on groups he disagrees with? Environmental activist Ray Vaughan responds to McInnis: "We have long fought against those secretive multi-national organizations that have sponsored 'environmental terrorism' in America. Throughout our great land, these groups are poisoning our air, our water and our food supply. Children have been hurt. People have been killed. ...
PR Week reported on October 1 that family members of Osama bin Laden went shopping for a PR firm shortly after September 11 to help distance themselves from their terrorist relative, whom they claim to have disinherited several years ago. Steven Goldstein and his firm, Attention America, was approached by one of bin Laden's brothers in late September. Goldstein, who is Jewish and pro-Israel, thinks he was approached by the bin Laden family because of his religious and political stance.
Saudi Arabia, which hired Burson-Marsteller three days following the September 11 terror attacks, has signed up another PR firm to help manage its image in the United States. Qorvis Communications, headed by former Shandwick North America CEO Michael Petruzzello, will do polling and Congressional lobbying.
Like the United States, Britain is using the specter of terrorism to write new laws that erode domestic civil liberties. The House of Commons this week began considering a bill submitted by Prime Minister Tony Blair. According to the Guardian, "policy-makers have dusted down several of their more regressive proposals that have already been rebuffed once, to give them another run in the new coercive climate. ... The most serious infringement of civil rights ...
The Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers Association (PhRMA) has hired Edelman Public Relations Worldwide to help position the pharmaceutical industry as a "leading source of information to the public" on the issue of bioterrorism. For the other side of the story, check out what Corpwatch.org has to say about wartime profiteering by drug companies and the controversy on patented drugs which started when the first signs of anthrax attacks appeared in the US.
PR has a vital role to play in promoting economic globalization and fighting terrorism, according to the latest issue of The Holmes Report, a public relations industry trade newsletter. Holmes cites the musings of Jack Leslie, chairman of Weber Shandwick Worldwide and a past executive with the Sawyer Miller Group (whose role in explaining away the Colombian government's involvement with drug traffickers is detailed our book, Toxic Sludge Is Good For You).
"The president of the United States is encouraging us to buy," observes marketer Chuck Kelly. "Broadway stars donate their time to film a commercial asking us to visit New York City. The Federal Reserve Board chairman tells us that the best tonic for the economy is for consumers to invest in it by spending money. Could any marketer ask for more?" Kelly argues that America is "embarking on a journey of spiritual patriotism" that "is about pride, loyalty, caring and believing" -- not to mention, of course, selling.