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Truth and Consequences

 

President’s Column: Andra Bennett House, APR

Remember the long-running game show Truth or Consequences? Sometimes in the world of PR, it’s a game known as Truth AND Consequences.

Everyone agrees if we lie about, hide or omit critical facts, we will eventually pay the consequences. But truth – or personal opinion – has consequences as well.

Some months ago, this debate hit the blogs regarding Whole Foods CEO John Mackey, who penned an Aug. 11 opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal regarding health care reform. It prompted thousands of comments on Whole Food’s Internet forum, and protesters called for a boycott of the store.

Mackey certainly has freedom of speech, freedom to his opinions. But were the public relations implications – and the financial ripple effects – worth sharing those opinions in such a public forum? Health care as a philosophy is certainly tied into Whole Foods’ mission, but taking a political stance may have unnecessarily alienated too much of the customer base. The jury is still out.

Another example that comes to my mind recently is Rush Limbaugh’s bid to become co-owner of the St. Louis Rams. Some high-profile NFL players said they would not play for Limbaugh, based on racial comments he has made in the past, so he was dropped from the bid. Others, like Time magazine’s Bill Saporito, think that the NFL “is just another big business — why should it be anything less — only with a huge amount of ego attached to it. Rush should fit in quite well.”

Rush, as a nationally-known public figure and entertainer who often says polarizing things on the airwaves, is either worshiped or vilified. Anyone entering into a business relationship would certainly be within their rights to weigh the benefits vs. the risks of teaming up with a person whose larger-than-life reputation could impact the value or operation of a franchise.

It shouldn’t come as any surprise when a public figure cannot separate unrelated business dealings from his or her reputation. We cannot separate a pastor’s / CEO’s / radio host’s personal opinions or private behavior from their public responsibility to their trustholders. They can’t live their lives in compartments. Is that fair? Not always. But it’s the way it is.

Public figures have always been scrutinized and held to higher standards. With today’s 24/7 media, now more than ever, freedom of speech does not guarantee freedom from the consequences of your speech.

Three Signs You’re a PR Pro

Public Relations is ever changing – and as it becomes more integrated with marketing and advertising, we are starting to see many new facets of PR professionals. So what constitutes as a PR professional? We’ve discussed the definition, but what about types of people? Types of personalities? We will never all be the same, but we might have some of the same traits.

1. ‘Dude I can’t put down my BlackBerry/iPhone/snazzy smartphone‘: Admit it. You check it incessantly. You have to be on all the time. You’re checking social media channels, Google Alerts and national media coverage. If something negative hits, you need to be ready. If a client pings you at 2 a.m., you might be expected to answer. It might vary depending on your industry, but clients come first. In associations, members come first.

2. ‘Proud, Honored and Words Like it Make Us Cringe’: It’s hard to look at those words in a press release and not take out the red pen and cross it out. Innovative and Synergy are starting to become over-used words as well. As PR professionals, we don’t want to have the same type of press release as another, especially a competitor. It’s hard to believe something is ‘incredible’ if everyone else is shouting the same thing. Make your client unique.

3. ‘Grammar Pet Peeves’: Mine is ‘your’ v. ‘you’re.’ Yours might be ‘loose’ v. lose. Many of us are writers at heart, and a large portion of our job revolves around it. I’ve noticed many have quirks and like things done a certain way – and grammar is always one of them.

So what would you add? What are your signs of a PR professional?

The How (Not) Guide to PR

This post is cross-posted on the LAF Blog here.

I blog a lot about PR tools, how social media affects PR and what we can do to be better PR professionals. However, what about those that are entering the PR field and wondering what tools they do need?

What about the tools they DON’T need? Let’s face it, not everyone is a rockstar PR professional, nor are they ever going to be. Many times, hard work and dedication will get you far in this field. If you don’t have the foundation, however, you won’t make it. Below are three points that won’t add to the next great PR pro:

1. I want to dress up, meet celebrities and like, host parties

sic_londonnyc_0 The public relations field is viewed as a glamorous all night party on many TV programs. With how my TV kids watch nowadays, it’s no wonder that many enter their college public relations programs thinking that’s what it is. Wrong. Public Relations does not equal solely publicity. Yes, you might plan events. You will be the one running around, making sure all of the details are seen to, dealing with any crisis and making sure that everyone is happy.

2. I have to write and research?

Yes. Two strengths I always tell PR students is that they must be able to write and research well. Most of my days are spent writing, researching and executing media relations. PR is all about getting the word out – and you have to know the market and your audience before proceeding.

3. “I’m a people person.”

Good for you – so is everyone else. Your personality can get you far in this field – but it’s through pitching, promoting a brand and landing media hits that will get you even farther. Many times, being extremely personable can come off as flirty and non-professional. There is a line – and you have to work for a brand that fits your personality.

So, what would you add?

*Photo copyright of HBO and Sex and the City.

Tweet. Meet. Give. Twestival Time

This post is brought to the GFW PRSA by Lauren Vargas:

On Thursday, February 12, users of the micro-blogging service Twitter will gather in over one hundred cities around the world to share the love and raise money for charity:water, a not-for-profit bringing clean, safe drinking water to people in developing nations. The event is 100% volunteer-run.

The Dallas Twestival at Mockingbird Station will feature live music by local bands, food and drink, a raffle, WiFi, feeds from other global events, a free film at the Angelica Theater, a show at Hyena’s Comedy Club, and friendly, engaged Fort Worth and Dallasites united to “Tweet. Meet. Give.” 100% of proceeds go to charity:water. Purchase your tickets now for only $10!
The Dallas/Fort Worth Twestival goal is to raise $4000, which is the cost of one well. Dallas/Fort Worth Twestival volunteers are looking for sponsors at the $500 or $1000 levels, or who can offer goods or services for donation – these will be part of a raffle or silent auction. Sponsors’ logos will be displayed at the event, on the Dallas Twestival website, and included in the live streaming web broadcast; they may also provide materials to be distributed at the event. The sponsorship package information is available online at http://dallas.twestival.com/dallas-twestival-sponsorship/.
Additional information may be found at http://dallas.twestival.com and http://twestival.com.
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