Don’t be mad, be good

(This post first appeared July 16, 2008 on the Next Communications Blog.)

On Sunday, June 1, 2008 legal analyst Andrew Cohen of CBS spoke out on former White House Press Secretary, Scott McClellen’s new tell-all book. In his report, “The Flak on Flacks,” Cohen accuses PR professionals of making a living on untruths. He even calls out PRSA’s ethics. National PRSA responded. Cohen responds. And the arguing raged on, and on, and on.

43 days later, on Sunday July 13, 2008 a columnist for the Dallas Morning News wrote his opinion on a regional natural gas drilling company, Chesapeake Energy’s corporate online video channel. The online news channel may have gone unnoticed if not for the fact that a local television news anchor, Tracey Rowlett, left his anchor position on the Dallas/Fort Worth CBS affiliate for Chesapeake’s (coming in September 2008 from Branded News.) The DMN column even quoted a Texas state representative to further make his point:

State Rep. Lon Burnam, D-Fort Worth, isn’t buying that Chesapeake will fund the newscasts and not exercise any influence over them. “Lies, lies and more lies,” he said.

“Only the extremely, extraordinarily naive would think any corporation would hire a PR operation to get the truth out,” he said. “Let’s not be naive about the Chesapeake Broadcasting Network.”

The Dallas Observer’s Blog, Unfair Park had Tracey Rowlett’s side of the story including:

Nobody is covering these issues, and the Shale is the most important thing to hit here since cattle. It’s that kind of an economic issue. It’ll be a full discussion program. Folks keep thinking we’ll be shills for Chesapeake, and that’s not what this is.

Truth & PR
I disagree with Andrew Cohen’s sweeping generalization of PR people as liars. I was pleased to see a quick response by PRSA national through the letter plus e-mails to membership keeping us updated. Further I don’t appreciate Rep. Burnam’s equating PR with lies. Actually, I thought it was kind of funny for a politician to call PR people liars. And as for the local news anchor, Tracey Rowlett leaving one news desk for a perceived corporate communications news desk, maybe the guy just wants to get into a more stable industry! (Thanks, T-Mo.)

But it is hard to argue with the perception of public relations as a profession in society.

I’ve read where maybe the public relations profession should have a PR campaign. I don’t think this is possible. I don’t see how anyone could change societal views of public relations any more than I think people will start thinking highly of politicians, lawyers, used-car salesmen or journalists. We are viewed in a negative light. There is no denying this. People see us using “spin” to cover up problems.

I fall under the broker paradigm of public relations: An intermediary between an organization and its stakeholders to find mutually beneficial solutions. (Tip of the hat to Kami Huyse on her insightful post.)

What I do know is this: I can only control what I do as a communications/PR professional to influence how my sphere of influence sees my profession. I hope when people look at me and the work I do, they see a credible and honest professional who keeps in mind the best interests of my organization or client.

I should not and I will not apologize for trying to make my organization or client look good for stakeholders. It is up to me to accomplish this task with integrity and truthfulness. We serve our profession by striving to be better at our craft including an adherence to its ethical standards. Professionals practicing this type of PR will not have to worry about this and any other backlash against our profession.

What do you think?

Photo Credit: nouQraz

Social Media: Under Construction

On Wednesday, July 9, Terry Morawski and I collaborated on a social media presentation for the Greater Fort Worth chapter of PRSA:

Additional presentation options: .pdf, .ppt, slideshare

A lesson in Social Media

Common Craft: LinkedIn made simple

For any of our members who might by wondering how LinkedIn can possibly be helpful, this is a great video from the folks at Common Craft. It is especially relevant for small business owners or service providers to show the usefulness of a network:


Thoughts on blogging

from the July issue of the eChaser…PRESIDENT’S COLUMN

Laura Van Hoosier, APR, Greater Fort Worth PRSA
As the oldest child, I’ve always had a mind of my own. My mother says that by 2 years old I was giving her direction on our next steps. Now I’ve been inspired by my fellow GFW PRSA members to start a blog, and it’s perfectly in line with an independent spirit.
For me, it’s really just a “live, work, play” online journal (nothing as interesting as my high school diary that my mom read) — a wonderful forum to post web sites, updates about my daughters, family happenings and anything that’s in my world. I sent the link to a few close family members, and my aunt in Hawaii wrote back, “BLOG! BLOG! BLOG! We enjoy keeping up with you this way.” was the easiest way to get started, and once I started, I couldn’t stop. Each morning I wake up thinking, “What will I post today?” But it won’t matter one iota if I’m the only one who ever reads it. Already I have enjoyed looking back to reference articles, facts, funny things the girls did, photos, etc.
Lisa Gail Barnes, Richie Escovedo, Linda Jacobson, Sarah McClellan-Brandt, Terry Morawski and I are blogging away at To join us, e-mail your blog’s link to the chapter webmaster, richie.escovedo[@], and he’ll post it.
You’ll hear how Richie and others have forayed into new media at the July 9 meeting. It ‘ll be a hands-on program, so bring your laptop, and the presenters will walk you through useful tools and tactics you can implement right away for your organization.
Here’s to our country’s independence. Yours and mine, too.