Fun and ethical; why more journos are turning to PR

Last week at the Frocomm PR summit, a Sydney journalism luminary proclaimed that 80% of PRs were rubbish, inferring not-so-subtly that PR was better off for the defection of many ex-hacks (incl himself). “Why then,” I challenged him, “do so many PR disasters seem to be created by ex-journos, eh?” (I cited Colin Gibson’s Svengate debacle and several others). The new PR saviour conceded I had a point. For good measure, I sharply reminded him that PR was about much more than media relations, too!!
In the UK’s Guardian another fence-jumper, Daniel McCrystal talks about the rise in journo defections to PR citing:
It’s not just for the money
PR is more fun than journalism
Journos are fed-up with newsroom cost-cutting
PR isn’t really as duplicitous as it’s made out to be

Securing media coverage – the editors tips

Seems not all Aussie editors are enamoured by the multi-layered social media release stylee!!
This month’s (Australia) Marketing magazine features a survey of several top editors advising press agents/publicists how to pitch/present stories. This snippet of sageliness acts as a free teaser on the Marketing mag blog:
“If you send a press release, make sure that I can get as much information from it as possible without having to click on attachments, follow links or make phone calls for more information.
A rather irritated editor slates ‘ PR persistence’ saying:
“Probably the thing that annoys me most about PR and marketing types is when they try to tell me they know my audience better than I do. I have a limited amount of time and a busy job, and someone pestering me in hopes they’ll convince me to cover something I don’t think my readers will be interested in can only do themselves, and their clients, a disservice.

Olympics torch relay makes Samsung's PR advisers nervy

My fave New Zealand PR insider (Kelle) pokes us towards a TV report that shows how Olympic torch relay skittishness has spread to New Zealand. When TV show Campbell Live tried to interview a kiwi torch carrier to see if/how the Tibetan protests were affecting him, the PR’s got a wee bitty uptight. This national TV segment shows how N.B.P.R. insisted that interview questions were sent to them in advance (sensible enough) but that they wanted time to ‘coach’ Aaron on how to answer these questions (too much disclosure guys??), and that a live personal interview was outta the question. Oh, and just before the TV company sent a film crew to visit Aaron, N.B. PR called to say their client (Samsung – who sponsor the torch relay I think) was too nervous to let any interview go ahead; Great national (and web) publicity for Samsung and its kiwi PR team eh?

Clinton's Burson Marsteller chief derided by Gawker

Talk about stamping on a man’s grave before he’s cold in the ground; Gawker gleefully reports how BM’s PR supremo got chucked outta the Clinton campaign (which incidentally culls aides faster than China does with Tibetan dissidents). Why did Mark Penn depart? Most commentators agree it was his PR consultancy interests, which saw him meet with the Colombian government with a view to representing them on the opposite side of an issue from Hillary Clinton, while running her campaign. Conflict of interest anyone? Sterling judgement from an expert in impression management? A salutory lesson for any ‘big’ client; is your adviser too big to represent you? After all, when the consultant (and his other interests) becomes the story, it can eclipse your goals and reflect poorly on your reputation, too.
Oh, and as Gawker happily reports, Penn and BM also dropped the ball with the Columbians too, who were none too happy with the publicity, either.
But a wee word to Gawker; many decent PR practitioners disagree with your description of the…”PR industry, which is definitively one big amoral hired gun.” Tsk, tsk. That’s like saying all journos are delusional hacks that play decorative second fiddle to a revenue-driven media model based on advertising expenditure. Doh!!

Eco PR disaster (just in time for Earth Hour)

Melissa Cavanaugh writes me from the mediabistro forums where she’s just posted this piece. Melissa tells of how a North Carolina agency manages to portray its client (TharpeRobbins) as ludicrously hypocritical, by announcing their commitment to environmentally sustainable operations with a really wasteful mailing, replete with eco-unfriendly plastics, styrofoam and excess packaging! Melissa says:
“I just got a FedEx, marked urgent, from a company in North Carolina called McNeill
Communications Group. So I opened (and discarded) one medium FedEx box, transported
from NC to New York. I removed (and discarded) some packing paper that was securing
a cardboard box. I opened (and discarded) the cardboard box to find a plastic box
wrapped in styrofoam. I threw out the styrofoam and opened the plastic box to find
more paper packaging, a plastic bag of styrofoam peanuts, a plastic swizzle stick,
and a three-page press release. The title of the release? “TharpeRobbins Celebrates Earth Day by Leading the Way with Environmental Initiatives.” The gimmick is that the styrofoam peanuts dissolve in water. My jaw just dropped. Continue reading

Poor Phorm as Citigate DR's online PR flamed


Daljit Bhurji – a social media PR similar to yours truly – brings news of a growing PR disaster for tech innovators Phorm and its PR associates who include Citigate Dewe Rogerson, Freuds, Burson and crisis manager rottweiler John Stonborough. Phorm is an ad-serving company which has signed deals with leading UK Internet Service Providers including BT, Virgin and Talk Talk, which allows it to track the browsing behaviour of customers and display better targeted ads – with the ISPs collecting a share of the ad revenues.
From what I can see from Daljit’s and other’s posts, Phorm may be acting “illegally” in intercepting browsing histories; however, while the jury is out on this point, online jurors are venting and condemning Phorm’s PR reps (notably CDR) for:
Trying to engage and counter negative posts (is that really such a PR sin??)
Being inauthentic and dishonest (inept PR’s trying to pass themselves off as Phorm’s ‘tech team’)
Forum firefighting (PR’s monitoring comments then trying to douse criticism with ‘one-liners’)
Misrepresenting the client and your PR paymasters (see above)
Creating unfavourable impressions (see all of above)

Edelman and Sorrell disagree on PR recession

wine.jpg Half empty or what?

Pic courtesy of

A few weeks back global Advertising big gun was trumpeting that PR had never had it so good, and was the rising star in the comms firmament. PR-meister Richard Edelman’s latest blog post is far more cautious, implying that the US recession – and its inevitable slashing of marketing budget – could yet again see PR as the ‘Poor Relation’ when it comes to share of the comms budget pie. Rather than just hanging his doom out there, Richard helpfully offers a series of possible solutions…like helping clients generate their own original content, stressing the worth of third party media endorsement, our (PR) reputation-focused interactions with broadest poss stakeholder groups, our ability to connect, engage and message within a v complex media environment, plus finally, our conversation-starting VFM…So who’s on the money as far as your consultancy or department is concerned – bullish Sorrell or ‘get out and sell’ Edelman?

To blog or not to blog, that's the question

Peter Himler recently flagged the stoush between Gawker and Edelman PR after an unverified source accused Edelman PR trainers of erm, lets just leave it as unseemly professional conduct. This kind of unsubstantiated rumour is nasty, vindictive and, often, damaging. Rightly, Richard Edelman came out fighting, refuting the allegations and underlining his firms’ commitment to ethics. As the story has been around for a week or so, I wanted an update and rushed to Richard’s fairly reliable blog -but there was zip, nada on the Gawker snipes.
I surmise that the decision (by RE) is between using such a personal situ to highlight the real difficulties of managing repute in the blogosphere, or of acknowledging a case you wouldn’t want to draw valuable stakeholders’ attention to. But from a Soc Med leadership perspective, what do you think would be the most appropriate action?

Beijing Olympics to deploy H&K to avert PR disasters

Following a host of pesky media inconveniences, Steven Spielberg’s ‘conscience’ resignation has signalled alarm bells for Olympics organisers who may have to rely on Public Relations agency, Hill & Knowlton to combat the steady drip of bad news stories suddenly contaminating the Olympic run-in.
With rumours of construction worker deaths, real life dissident arrests and China’s inaction over the atrocities in Darfur, China needs to be on its PR game if it wants to ensure that the investment and spectacle of The Games doesn’t become a lavish backdrop for the airing of some dirty Chinese laundry, by a plethora of activist groups. A Human Rights observer noted: “It is a wake-up call to them in terms of the risks that the games pose to China’s global image. I think this is just the beginning in terms of expression of concern about human rights.”
With more than 20,000 accredited journalists due to attend the games, their unfettered comments on everything will present a challenge to Chinese information managers and PR consultants alike.

Story courtesy of UK Guardian.