Gini Dietrich

The (Wrong) Image of the PR Industry

By: Gini Dietrich | January 10, 2011 | 
132

On Friday, in the top five, I promised we would revisit the Economist article that Justin Goldsborough sent to me. Titled “Public Relations: Rise of the Image Man,” it’s a story that is a must-read if you are in the communication industry. I’m about to give you a Cliff’s Notes version (and my opinion), but please take 20 minutes later this week and read the full article.

It begins by giving the history of the more than a century of the industry’s “spinning” and ends by discussing the value of social media in our communication efforts (“the PR men are in danger of believing their own spin about the opportunities the online world will bring”).

“Ever since Lee’s (former journalist Ivy Lee, who some say is the father of PR) first spats with cynical hacks, public relations officers have been locked in an antagonistic, symbiotic relationship with journalists, with mutual contempt tempered by mutual dependency. They have also fought for influence within big corporations against their great rivals in the marketing and advertising departments. Yet, after a century of spinning, PR Man remains uncertain of his proper role. Is he a master manipulator? Is he the devil’s advocate (as long as Satan pays his fees)? Or is he a benign bridge-builder between the corporate world and the public?”

This made me think. I wonder how many books I have about the industry that have the word “spin” in the title? And not spin as in “Spin Sucks,” but spin as in this is what we do for a living (six, just in my office).

A few years ago, I saw Harris Diamond speak. He is the CEO of the holding company that owns both Weber Shandwick and Golin-Harris. I blogged about it at the time (before we had any readers) because I really liked him, but as an attorney turned CEO of not one, but two, PR firms, I was sorely disappointed at the message he was perpetuating about our industry.

And, between high-level people like him and this article, that message continues to grow.

My colleagues and our clients tease me about being ethical to a fault and I’m OK with that. I’d rather be honest than to allow people think they can hire us to spin the truth for them. I’d love to say everyone in our industry is like this, but I know (just like any other profession) there are snakes.

The idea that we all lie (or spin the truth) is exhausting and I’m tired of it. I’m tired of telling potential clients no, we won’t lie for them. I’m tired of reading articles like this one that are published in seemingly unbiased, yet highly influential, media. I’m tired of the spin.

So, other than standing up for our morals and values, not working with companies we don’t believe in, and continuing our own industry branding efforts, what are we going to do about this perception we’re fighting, not only with corporations, but also in mainstream media?

I found the image on the Valley PR Blog – thanks guys!

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro.

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132 responses to “The (Wrong) Image of the PR Industry”

  1. KevinDeSoto says:

    we just keep on doing the “RIGHT” thing. truth will always prevail. eventually.
    you rock gini. the good guys always win. again- eventually 🙂

  2. KevinDeSoto says:

    we just keep on doing the “RIGHT” thing. truth will always prevail. eventually.
    you rock gini. the good guys always win. again- eventually 🙂

  3. robbyslaughter says:

    I applaud you for wanting to make the PR industry one characterized by ethics and integrity.

    But, it’s going to be a long road, considering that the official PRSA Code of Ethics actually suggests that members merely “avoid conflicts of interests” and “avoid deceptive practices.” Seriously. And these are just *guidelines*, not policies! Shouldn’t PR folks—masters of written language—pick something stronger? How about: “PRSA members shall never engage in work where there is a clear conlict of interest.” How about: “PRSA members shall never intentionally decieve their clients or the public.” Go read these documents for yourself:

    http://www.prsa.org/AboutPRSA/Ethics/ http://www.prsa.org/AboutPRSA/Ethics/CodeEnglish/index.html

    I think that someone has to do the important work of explaining concepts to the public in a fair and positive light. This kind of language makes it easy to understand why PR has such a bad rap. And if anyone should have a good image, shouldn’t it be the PR industry?

  4. robbyslaughter says:

    I applaud you for wanting to make the PR industry one characterized by ethics and integrity.

    But, it’s going to be a long road, considering that the official PRSA Code of Ethics actually suggests that members merely “avoid conflicts of interests” and “avoid deceptive practices.” Seriously. And these are just *guidelines*, not policies! Shouldn’t PR folks—masters of written language—pick something stronger? How about: “PRSA members shall never engage in work where there is a clear conlict of interest.” How about: “PRSA members shall never intentionally decieve their clients or the public.” Go read these documents for yourself:

    http://www.prsa.org/AboutPRSA/Ethics/ http://www.prsa.org/AboutPRSA/Ethics/CodeEnglish/index.html

    I think that someone has to do the important work of explaining concepts to the public in a fair and positive light. This kind of language makes it easy to understand why PR has such a bad rap. And if anyone should have a good image, shouldn’t it be the PR industry?

  5. ginidietrich says:

    @robbyslaughter I was the PRSA president in Chicago in 2007 so I know these guidelines well. It’s sad and you’re right…if anyone can change the perception it SHOULD be the PR industry. I’m trying and with the likes of you and @KevinDeSoto and others, we’ll get there!

  6. ginidietrich says:

    @robbyslaughter I was the PRSA president in Chicago in 2007 so I know these guidelines well. It’s sad and you’re right…if anyone can change the perception it SHOULD be the PR industry. I’m trying and with the likes of you and @KevinDeSoto and others, we’ll get there!

  7. ginidietrich says:

    @KevinDeSoto I know. I know. The good guys always do win. But it’s so frustrating when some journalist spouts something off like this without ever having worked in the industry. I think I’ll write a letter to the editor. BTW…great seeing you here!

  8. ginidietrich says:

    @KevinDeSoto I know. I know. The good guys always do win. But it’s so frustrating when some journalist spouts something off like this without ever having worked in the industry. I think I’ll write a letter to the editor. BTW…great seeing you here!

  9. KeithTrivitt says:

    Gini – Thank you for this wonderful post and for standing up for the PR industry so passionately. Like you, I, along with many others at PRSA, were very disappointed with The Economist article (and as an aside, from a few random conversations I had with business and media reporters who also read this article, many felt the same way and did not view PR nearly as derisively as The Economist article tried to portray the current state of affairs).

    To quickly address your question of what the PR industry will do to address misperceptions like this, I wanted to give you and your readers a quick rundown of some of the ways PRSA responded to and addressed this article (the large misperception issue):

    Immediately following the article’s release, we submitted a letter to the letter of The Economist (co-signed by John Paluszek, chair of the Global Alliance) rebutting several of the article’s points.

    That letter formed the basis of two published responses from PRSA: A blog post (http://ht.ly/3B7eQ) and an op-ed in CommPro.biz (http://ht.ly/3B7ko). We also let it be cleraly known directly to The Economist, via an online comment to the article (http://ht.ly/3B7qP) that the article’s perspective was shortsighted, outdated and misinformed. It’s unfortunate that rather than presenting a more balanced and compreshensive analysis of where the profession actually is right now, The Economist chose to rely on outdated pejoratives to continue a myth that simply does not exist anymore.

    And it’s blog posts like this, what Frank Strong wrote, and many others who stand up truth, ethics, the business value of PR and serving the public good that will help to dispel these myths and ensure public relations retains its strategic value.

    Keith Trivitt
    Associate Director of Public Relations
    PRSA

  10. KeithTrivitt says:

    Gini – Thank you for this wonderful post and for standing up for the PR industry so passionately. Like you, I, along with many others at PRSA, were very disappointed with The Economist article (and as an aside, from a few random conversations I had with business and media reporters who also read this article, many felt the same way and did not view PR nearly as derisively as The Economist article tried to portray the current state of affairs).

    To quickly address your question of what the PR industry will do to address misperceptions like this, I wanted to give you and your readers a quick rundown of some of the ways PRSA responded to and addressed this article (the large misperception issue):

    Immediately following the article’s release, we submitted a letter to the letter of The Economist (co-signed by John Paluszek, chair of the Global Alliance) rebutting several of the article’s points.

    That letter formed the basis of two published responses from PRSA: A blog post (http://ht.ly/3B7eQ) and an op-ed in CommPro.biz (http://ht.ly/3B7ko). We also let it be cleraly known directly to The Economist, via an online comment to the article (http://ht.ly/3B7qP) that the article’s perspective was shortsighted, outdated and misinformed. It’s unfortunate that rather than presenting a more balanced and compreshensive analysis of where the profession actually is right now, The Economist chose to rely on outdated pejoratives to continue a myth that simply does not exist anymore.

    And it’s blog posts like this, what Frank Strong wrote, and many others who stand up truth, ethics, the business value of PR and serving the public good that will help to dispel these myths and ensure public relations retains its strategic value.

    Keith Trivitt
    Associate Director of Public Relations
    PRSA

  11. robbyslaughter says:

    @ginidietrich @KevinDeSoto A great summary of an outside view of the PR industry (from people like me who use PR services) is Paul Graham’s essay, “The Submarine” http://www.paulgraham.com/submarine.html

    The interesting question will be: what does it mean to do PR—especially media relations—with total integrity? If you have a relationship with a journalist that allows you to influence them, then you aren’t just another source. You might be totally honest with your client and that journalist, but the general public may get different news because of your efforts. Is that bias unethical?

    Furthermore, doesn’t your ability to write impact my ability to fairly judge the intelligence of your clients? If you put together an op-ed piece for a client, signed by that client, doesn’t it tell me that they are a great writer and potentially a good investment?

    You’ve got an an enormous task ahead of you. Good luck 🙂

  12. robbyslaughter says:

    @ginidietrich @KevinDeSoto A great summary of an outside view of the PR industry (from people like me who use PR services) is Paul Graham’s essay, “The Submarine” http://www.paulgraham.com/submarine.html

    The interesting question will be: what does it mean to do PR—especially media relations—with total integrity? If you have a relationship with a journalist that allows you to influence them, then you aren’t just another source. You might be totally honest with your client and that journalist, but the general public may get different news because of your efforts. Is that bias unethical?

    Furthermore, doesn’t your ability to write impact my ability to fairly judge the intelligence of your clients? If you put together an op-ed piece for a client, signed by that client, doesn’t it tell me that they are a great writer and potentially a good investment?

    You’ve got an an enormous task ahead of you. Good luck 🙂

  13. ginidietrich says:

    @KeithTrivitt Thanks Keith! I applaud you guys for taking such a strong stance on this. I was so disgusted, I didn’t dig into the Economist to see what others had written and shame on me for not doing so. I think the larger issue remains that we continue having trouble getting a seat at the table and, while articles like this certainly don’t help matters (how many more CEOs read The Economist than Spin Sucks?), our industry needs to learn some additional business skills in order to help change the perception. If we could figure out how to relate what we do to business growth (it’s possible, but most of us are creative people, not numbers people), the momentum shifts. Perhaps that’s something PRSA could consider developing through conferences and webinars?

    Also, I’m sorry I didn’t see any of your above links communicated to me, as a member. Did I just miss it entirely?

  14. ginidietrich says:

    @KeithTrivitt Thanks Keith! I applaud you guys for taking such a strong stance on this. I was so disgusted, I didn’t dig into the Economist to see what others had written and shame on me for not doing so. I think the larger issue remains that we continue having trouble getting a seat at the table and, while articles like this certainly don’t help matters (how many more CEOs read The Economist than Spin Sucks?), our industry needs to learn some additional business skills in order to help change the perception. If we could figure out how to relate what we do to business growth (it’s possible, but most of us are creative people, not numbers people), the momentum shifts. Perhaps that’s something PRSA could consider developing through conferences and webinars?

    Also, I’m sorry I didn’t see any of your above links communicated to me, as a member. Did I just miss it entirely?

  15. KevinDeSoto says:

    @ginidietrich good idea. excellent content as usual gini !! keep up good work. yes- sometimes the things people do and say….. ugh.

  16. KevinDeSoto says:

    @ginidietrich good idea. excellent content as usual gini !! keep up good work. yes- sometimes the things people do and say….. ugh.

  17. ginidietrich says:

    @robbyslaughter Oh great. Now you’re going to get my blood boiling again! You bring up great points. Let me read the link you provided and I’ll come back.

  18. ginidietrich says:

    @robbyslaughter Oh great. Now you’re going to get my blood boiling again! You bring up great points. Let me read the link you provided and I’ll come back.

  19. KeithTrivitt says:

    @ginidietrich Great point re PR pros demonstrating their business acumen. It’s something I absolutely agree with you, and it’s a big reason why PRSA created the “Business Case for Public Relations” (http://ht.ly/3B8rn), as you know.

    Not sure why you didn’t see our various responses to this article. We tweeted about them, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. but alas, it looks like they missed crossing your screen (we try to avoid big e-mail blasts to members of information of this sort). It’s tough to gauge how much impact our responses had (though it was nice to see PRNewser pick it up and quote us (http://ht.ly/3B8yc) in its own analysis of the article). At the very least, though, I’m confident that The Economist now understands our perspective and will seek that out more in the future (and that comes from various background discussions I had with editors and reporters there after the article was published).

  20. KeithTrivitt says:

    @ginidietrich Great point re PR pros demonstrating their business acumen. It’s something I absolutely agree with you, and it’s a big reason why PRSA created the “Business Case for Public Relations” (http://ht.ly/3B8rn), as you know.

    Not sure why you didn’t see our various responses to this article. We tweeted about them, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. but alas, it looks like they missed crossing your screen (we try to avoid big e-mail blasts to members of information of this sort). It’s tough to gauge how much impact our responses had (though it was nice to see PRNewser pick it up and quote us (http://ht.ly/3B8yc) in its own analysis of the article). At the very least, though, I’m confident that The Economist now understands our perspective and will seek that out more in the future (and that comes from various background discussions I had with editors and reporters there after the article was published).

  21. SarahSkerik says:

    When I read this over the holidays, I actually flipped back to the cover to check the date, fully expecting to see it say “1963.” I can only assume the writer received MadMen seasons 1-3 on DVD for Christmas and watched them end-to-end before drafting that article, so anachronisitic is his point of view.

    I work for PR Newswire and am a vendor – not practitioner. From my vantage point, I see/talk to/interact with large number and broad variety of PR pros. Almost to a person they are focused on translating PR to the new communications paradigm social media has defined – you know, the one which requires us to be relevant, transparent, engaging, friendly and human.

    The article lacks any specifics from this century, and draws broad (and frankly shopworn) conclusions about how influence is evolving, while at the same time revealing the writer as a Luddite (e.g. ” As for reaching those new social media “influencers”, most of these still get their basic information from old-fashioned news providers, as do most powerful and influential people.”)

    Errr. Umm. Okaaaay.

    The final nail in the lack-of-credibility coffin? The title. “The Rise of the Image Men.” Last time I looked, PR was a profession dominated by women.

    At the time, I dismissed this article as claptrap and one of the worst I’ve ever seen in the Economist. That said, it did get me thinking about how we in PR tell our story. Any PR pro will agree that one can always hone an image and fine-tune public perception.

    I’m not going to lie awake, fretting that this article will impact PR negatively. But I am going to pay attention to the ability I have to inform the public about the dramatic changes our business has seen, and how the role of the master storytellers is more important – and more relevant – today than ever.

  22. SarahSkerik says:

    When I read this over the holidays, I actually flipped back to the cover to check the date, fully expecting to see it say “1963.” I can only assume the writer received MadMen seasons 1-3 on DVD for Christmas and watched them end-to-end before drafting that article, so anachronisitic is his point of view.

    I work for PR Newswire and am a vendor – not practitioner. From my vantage point, I see/talk to/interact with large number and broad variety of PR pros. Almost to a person they are focused on translating PR to the new communications paradigm social media has defined – you know, the one which requires us to be relevant, transparent, engaging, friendly and human.

    The article lacks any specifics from this century, and draws broad (and frankly shopworn) conclusions about how influence is evolving, while at the same time revealing the writer as a Luddite (e.g. ” As for reaching those new social media “influencers”, most of these still get their basic information from old-fashioned news providers, as do most powerful and influential people.”)

    Errr. Umm. Okaaaay.

    The final nail in the lack-of-credibility coffin? The title. “The Rise of the Image Men.” Last time I looked, PR was a profession dominated by women.

    At the time, I dismissed this article as claptrap and one of the worst I’ve ever seen in the Economist. That said, it did get me thinking about how we in PR tell our story. Any PR pro will agree that one can always hone an image and fine-tune public perception.

    I’m not going to lie awake, fretting that this article will impact PR negatively. But I am going to pay attention to the ability I have to inform the public about the dramatic changes our business has seen, and how the role of the master storytellers is more important – and more relevant – today than ever.

  23. wabbitoid says:

    An excellent article for many reasons. First of all, we live in a world that generally buys its own BS, making us the victims of our own con. That’s pretty stupid and pointless. Thanks for doing your best to shine a light on this futility.

    The article is a great one because it starts from the begining. I often say that our society is at a dead-end, and that we have to either retrace our steps or sit down and wait for death. I’m all in favor of the former, and works like this are essential for that to happen.

  24. wabbitoid says:

    An excellent article for many reasons. First of all, we live in a world that generally buys its own BS, making us the victims of our own con. That’s pretty stupid and pointless. Thanks for doing your best to shine a light on this futility.

    The article is a great one because it starts from the begining. I often say that our society is at a dead-end, and that we have to either retrace our steps or sit down and wait for death. I’m all in favor of the former, and works like this are essential for that to happen.

  25. punchakpr says:

    Whenever I tell someone I’m studying PR I almost always get one of two responses: 1) So what do PR people do anyway? and 2) You must be good at lieing.

    I don’t mind the first response, but the second one always triggers me to go into this song and dance about how my future profession is not full of snakes (as you put it). However, they usually, and easily, respond with examples of a PR campaign that was less than exemplary. All in all, it’s an unfortunate stereotype to have following you.

    For some time now I’ve thought that PR should be have a mandatory overseeing body like the CIPR. Moreover, I think ethics should be taught in universities. Students studying to be doctors, lawyers, engineers are offered entire courses in ethics. PR students are lucky if they get one hour’s worth – for some people, it just isn’t enough to get the point across.

    I’m happy to hear from @KeithTrivitt that the PRSA has responded.

  26. punchakpr says:

    Whenever I tell someone I’m studying PR I almost always get one of two responses: 1) So what do PR people do anyway? and 2) You must be good at lieing.

    I don’t mind the first response, but the second one always triggers me to go into this song and dance about how my future profession is not full of snakes (as you put it). However, they usually, and easily, respond with examples of a PR campaign that was less than exemplary. All in all, it’s an unfortunate stereotype to have following you.

    For some time now I’ve thought that PR should be have a mandatory overseeing body like the CIPR. Moreover, I think ethics should be taught in universities. Students studying to be doctors, lawyers, engineers are offered entire courses in ethics. PR students are lucky if they get one hour’s worth – for some people, it just isn’t enough to get the point across.

    I’m happy to hear from @KeithTrivitt that the PRSA has responded.

  27. robbyslaughter says:

    @punchakpr @KeithTrivitt
    Both of those responses are not only offensive, they are also particularly ironic.

    PR is the business of communicating to the general public. If many people don’t know what PR professional actually do, then there’s tremendous irony that PR has such bad PR!

    And if PR is not primarily a business of deception, why would people suggest that it is? Again, why does PR have such bad PR?

    This is analogous to engineers working in buildings that continually collapse, doctors routinely made terrible medical decisions for themselves. PR should have fanatastic PR. That it doesn’t strikes at the very heart of the profession. If PR can’t address it’s own image, why should anyone believe that PR pros can genuinely help the rest of us for more than the length of a news cycle?

  28. robbyslaughter says:

    @punchakpr @KeithTrivitt
    Both of those responses are not only offensive, they are also particularly ironic.

    PR is the business of communicating to the general public. If many people don’t know what PR professional actually do, then there’s tremendous irony that PR has such bad PR!

    And if PR is not primarily a business of deception, why would people suggest that it is? Again, why does PR have such bad PR?

    This is analogous to engineers working in buildings that continually collapse, doctors routinely made terrible medical decisions for themselves. PR should have fanatastic PR. That it doesn’t strikes at the very heart of the profession. If PR can’t address it’s own image, why should anyone believe that PR pros can genuinely help the rest of us for more than the length of a news cycle?

  29. wabbitoid says:

    @robbyslaughter @punchakpr @KeithTrivitt
    A brilliant statement of the obvious – that everyone (including me!) apparently has missed. Bravo!

  30. wabbitoid says:

    @robbyslaughter @punchakpr @KeithTrivitt
    A brilliant statement of the obvious – that everyone (including me!) apparently has missed. Bravo!

  31. sydcon_mktg says:

    One of the many reasons I follow you & frequent your blog is because of your honesty & integrity! We work with others in your industry, and can I just say if they were all like you it would make life much more pleasant! I think it says a lot about you as a person too. In this day and age, so many people are without any morals, I personally prefer to surround myself and be influenced by genuinely good, honest, moral individuals and businesses! Keep it up, Gini!

  32. sydcon_mktg says:

    One of the many reasons I follow you & frequent your blog is because of your honesty & integrity! We work with others in your industry, and can I just say if they were all like you it would make life much more pleasant! I think it says a lot about you as a person too. In this day and age, so many people are without any morals, I personally prefer to surround myself and be influenced by genuinely good, honest, moral individuals and businesses! Keep it up, Gini!

  33. MaureenB2B says:

    As a B2B marketing strategist, I’m always promoting PR as the most important lead gen tool in B2B. I’m a HUGE PR fan, though not a practitioner.

    Regarding what *you* can do: as a community, you must, must, must always lead with Business Pain/Value first. For instance, if we wanted this blog post to get more play in a B2B business leader community, I would’ve started it in this type of vibe:

    “There is no better lead gen opportunity for B2Bs than to have thought leaders and influencers sing their praises. For prospects & customers – hearing from a credible and respected 3rd party source has tremendous positive impact on their buying decisions. Certainly far more positive impact than a B2B-generated canned marketing piece. And how do B2Bs build solid relationships with influencers? Through great, strategic PR.

    Which is why it’s so distressing that the PR community continues to struggle with dismal …ummm… PR.

    I may be whack, but I think you all need to lead even every INTERNAL to PR-only audiences with a reminder of the tremendous biz value you bring to your clients. It’s like you need an alcoholics anonymous model to coach each other to speak about the ten steps of business value you bring to the table before you talk about any of the nitty gritty PR stuff.

    I LOVE you brilliant PR folks – you just need to position yourselves better!

  34. MaureenB2B says:

    As a B2B marketing strategist, I’m always promoting PR as the most important lead gen tool in B2B. I’m a HUGE PR fan, though not a practitioner.

    Regarding what *you* can do: as a community, you must, must, must always lead with Business Pain/Value first. For instance, if we wanted this blog post to get more play in a B2B business leader community, I would’ve started it in this type of vibe:

    “There is no better lead gen opportunity for B2Bs than to have thought leaders and influencers sing their praises. For prospects & customers – hearing from a credible and respected 3rd party source has tremendous positive impact on their buying decisions. Certainly far more positive impact than a B2B-generated canned marketing piece. And how do B2Bs build solid relationships with influencers? Through great, strategic PR.

    Which is why it’s so distressing that the PR community continues to struggle with dismal …ummm… PR.

    I may be whack, but I think you all need to lead even every INTERNAL to PR-only audiences with a reminder of the tremendous biz value you bring to your clients. It’s like you need an alcoholics anonymous model to coach each other to speak about the ten steps of business value you bring to the table before you talk about any of the nitty gritty PR stuff.

    I LOVE you brilliant PR folks – you just need to position yourselves better!

  35. KarenARocks says:

    Every industry has those that participate in not-so-ethical ways, and unfortunately PR is no different. The biggest jab to PR is that by lying/deceiving, it affects us deep within. I may get scammed on some business charging me a excessive fee for something, and I’ll get mad and that’s about it. But if someone messes with my trust, that’s a whole another issue. It’s like any relationship, once the trust is gone, so is the relationship.

    I have turned down health care jobs from those who want me to promote products/services where the claims are borderline shady. I won’t promote something I don’t 100% believe in. Period.

    I think a great follow up piece would be highlighting those in PR who do things the ethical way. Showcase the PR folks who are honest and don’t think that pulling one over your audience is the only way to participate in PR. Thanks Gini, for another marvelous post.

  36. KarenARocks says:

    Every industry has those that participate in not-so-ethical ways, and unfortunately PR is no different. The biggest jab to PR is that by lying/deceiving, it affects us deep within. I may get scammed on some business charging me a excessive fee for something, and I’ll get mad and that’s about it. But if someone messes with my trust, that’s a whole another issue. It’s like any relationship, once the trust is gone, so is the relationship.

    I have turned down health care jobs from those who want me to promote products/services where the claims are borderline shady. I won’t promote something I don’t 100% believe in. Period.

    I think a great follow up piece would be highlighting those in PR who do things the ethical way. Showcase the PR folks who are honest and don’t think that pulling one over your audience is the only way to participate in PR. Thanks Gini, for another marvelous post.

  37. sydcon_mktg says:

    @KarenARocks I think a follow up post showcasing honest PR folks is an outstanding idea!

  38. sydcon_mktg says:

    @KarenARocks I think a follow up post showcasing honest PR folks is an outstanding idea!

  39. KarenARocks says:

    @sydcon_mktg Thanks Jennifer. I’m currently working on another blog post idea, but I’ll have to add that in my queue. Or we could make it an awards show…everyone loves awards. Gini could host…Gini???

  40. KarenARocks says:

    @sydcon_mktg Thanks Jennifer. I’m currently working on another blog post idea, but I’ll have to add that in my queue. Or we could make it an awards show…everyone loves awards. Gini could host…Gini???

  41. punchakpr says:

    @robbyslaughter @KeithTrivitt I couldn’t agree more. I’ve tried to figure out why PR can’t do it’s own PR. I couldn’t really come up with a good answer other. I ended up concluding (jokingly) that PR was too busy doing other people’s PR that it forgot about its own.

  42. punchakpr says:

    @robbyslaughter @KeithTrivitt I couldn’t agree more. I’ve tried to figure out why PR can’t do it’s own PR. I couldn’t really come up with a good answer other. I ended up concluding (jokingly) that PR was too busy doing other people’s PR that it forgot about its own.

  43. punchakpr says:

    @wabbitoid @robbyslaughter @KeithTrivitt I couldn’t agree more. I’ve tried to figure out why PR can’t do it’s own PR. I couldn’t really come up with a good answer other. I ended up concluding (jokingly) that PR was too busy doing other people’s PR that it forgot about its own.

  44. punchakpr says:

    @wabbitoid @robbyslaughter @KeithTrivitt I couldn’t agree more. I’ve tried to figure out why PR can’t do it’s own PR. I couldn’t really come up with a good answer other. I ended up concluding (jokingly) that PR was too busy doing other people’s PR that it forgot about its own.

  45. sydcon_mktg says:

    @KarenARocks An awards show…now thats an idea! I am sure @ginidietrich would LOVE to be host!!!! 😉

  46. sydcon_mktg says:

    @KarenARocks An awards show…now thats an idea! I am sure @ginidietrich would LOVE to be host!!!! 😉

  47. Marketing_Guy says:

    Gini:

    The strategies that you lay out in the post for doing the “right” thing are the correct course. As noted about the PR industry has bad PR. It takes some people to really start the fire to get people moving. Maybe this article will galvanize that movement. Thanks for the post.

    Rob

  48. Marketing_Guy says:

    Gini:

    The strategies that you lay out in the post for doing the “right” thing are the correct course. As noted about the PR industry has bad PR. It takes some people to really start the fire to get people moving. Maybe this article will galvanize that movement. Thanks for the post.

    Rob

  49. bdorman264 says:

    And that is why you are so ‘followable’ because of your integrity and honesty……..trying to be funny but I do think it is obvious who is sincere and really trying to help someone (and you are definitely in that category). You shouldn’t have to preach ethics, but it sure seems like a lot of people need a refresher course.

    If you do what you say you are going to do, do it on time and say please and thank you really goes a long way to establish credibility. It really is the ‘little’ things that differentiate you from the pack.

    In this transparent world, it doesn’t take long to tell what is real and what isn’t.

    Keep on keepin’ it real Geni.

  50. bdorman264 says:

    And that is why you are so ‘followable’ because of your integrity and honesty……..trying to be funny but I do think it is obvious who is sincere and really trying to help someone (and you are definitely in that category). You shouldn’t have to preach ethics, but it sure seems like a lot of people need a refresher course.

    If you do what you say you are going to do, do it on time and say please and thank you really goes a long way to establish credibility. It really is the ‘little’ things that differentiate you from the pack.

    In this transparent world, it doesn’t take long to tell what is real and what isn’t.

    Keep on keepin’ it real Geni.

  51. Shonali says:

    Great post, Gini. I’m completely with you on being tired of it.

    @robbyslaughter makes a very interesting point with this:

    “what does it mean to do PR—especially media relations—with total integrity? If you have a relationship with a journalist that allows you to influence them, then you aren’t just another source. You might be totally honest with your client and that journalist, but the general public may get different news because of your efforts. Is that bias unethical?

    IMHO, a good relationship with a journalist may help open a door for me, but it does not allow me to try to influence the tone of the article in any way. What I’d want them to do is look at the story, the facts, the info I send them, etc., and then really hope that they tell it in a way that benefits the client/organization. Yes, I would pitch them strongly on what I consider the “good” points, but to me that’s good pitching, that’s not trying to bias them. In fact, I think if we try to bias anyone, it usually backfires.

    And re: “Furthermore, doesn’t your ability to write impact my ability to fairly judge the intelligence of your clients? If you put together an op-ed piece for a client, signed by that client, doesn’t it tell me that they are a great writer and potentially a good investment?”

    Yes, it could. On the other hand – and I apologize for introducing politics here – if you look back to Sarah Palin’s very first speech, she surprised a lot of people with what seemed an extreme degree of articulation. I don’t think it’s political, at least I don’t mean it to be, to say that that is not the case now.

    IMHO, what *should* come across from something like an op-ed, if it’s well written (or a speech), is what makes that person, or company, stand out. If it does, I might be compelled to read/learn more about them, and get started on the road to conversion to a customer, supporter, etc. So the facts behind the op-ed need to be really solid.

  52. Shonali says:

    Great post, Gini. I’m completely with you on being tired of it.

    @robbyslaughter makes a very interesting point with this:

    “what does it mean to do PR—especially media relations—with total integrity? If you have a relationship with a journalist that allows you to influence them, then you aren’t just another source. You might be totally honest with your client and that journalist, but the general public may get different news because of your efforts. Is that bias unethical?

    IMHO, a good relationship with a journalist may help open a door for me, but it does not allow me to try to influence the tone of the article in any way. What I’d want them to do is look at the story, the facts, the info I send them, etc., and then really hope that they tell it in a way that benefits the client/organization. Yes, I would pitch them strongly on what I consider the “good” points, but to me that’s good pitching, that’s not trying to bias them. In fact, I think if we try to bias anyone, it usually backfires.

    And re: “Furthermore, doesn’t your ability to write impact my ability to fairly judge the intelligence of your clients? If you put together an op-ed piece for a client, signed by that client, doesn’t it tell me that they are a great writer and potentially a good investment?”

    Yes, it could. On the other hand – and I apologize for introducing politics here – if you look back to Sarah Palin’s very first speech, she surprised a lot of people with what seemed an extreme degree of articulation. I don’t think it’s political, at least I don’t mean it to be, to say that that is not the case now.

    IMHO, what *should* come across from something like an op-ed, if it’s well written (or a speech), is what makes that person, or company, stand out. If it does, I might be compelled to read/learn more about them, and get started on the road to conversion to a customer, supporter, etc. So the facts behind the op-ed need to be really solid.

  53. ginidietrich says:

    AND THEN. One of us here just got this email from PR News. And we wonder why our industry is in trouble. Shaking my head.

    Can you please do us a favor…

    and “Like” PR News on Facebook.

    Thank You!

    About PR News: The PR News family of products includes PR News, the Platinum PR Awards, PR People Awards, the Nonprofit PR Awards and CSR Awards, The 100 Best Case Studies Book, Guidebook to Best Practices in CSR; Guidebook to Best Practices in Measurement, Crisis Management and Media Training Guidebooks and PR News Webinars. For more information about PR News and related books, webinars and awards programs go to prnewsonline.com.

  54. ginidietrich says:

    AND THEN. One of us here just got this email from PR News. And we wonder why our industry is in trouble. Shaking my head.

    Can you please do us a favor…

    and “Like” PR News on Facebook.

    Thank You!

    About PR News: The PR News family of products includes PR News, the Platinum PR Awards, PR People Awards, the Nonprofit PR Awards and CSR Awards, The 100 Best Case Studies Book, Guidebook to Best Practices in CSR; Guidebook to Best Practices in Measurement, Crisis Management and Media Training Guidebooks and PR News Webinars. For more information about PR News and related books, webinars and awards programs go to prnewsonline.com.

  55. JGoldsborough says:

    @robbyslaughter @GiniDietrich @KevinDeSoto Robby, thanks for sharing Paul’s essay (going to read it here in a sec). And I get your point. But I don’t think the examples you gave are unique to PR. In fact, at least from a PR standpoint you know you have Gini and her agency on the client’s side to help and that the publication wasn’t paid to run the Op-Ed piece.

    Marketing and advertising don’t warrant anymore trust than PR. They just have bigger budgets, more visibility and have been mainstream longer. Which is why @KeithTrivitt and others are right on — we’ve got to start practicing what we preach and do a better job on our own PR, business value. Social media gives us in PR the perfect opportunity to do that because customers are looking for an authentic relationship with brands, a solid product and answers to their questions. End of story.

    No business relationships are as squeakly clean as we’d like, you suggest. Just ask the NCAA :).

  56. JGoldsborough says:

    @robbyslaughter @GiniDietrich @KevinDeSoto Robby, thanks for sharing Paul’s essay (going to read it here in a sec). And I get your point. But I don’t think the examples you gave are unique to PR. In fact, at least from a PR standpoint you know you have Gini and her agency on the client’s side to help and that the publication wasn’t paid to run the Op-Ed piece.

    Marketing and advertising don’t warrant anymore trust than PR. They just have bigger budgets, more visibility and have been mainstream longer. Which is why @KeithTrivitt and others are right on — we’ve got to start practicing what we preach and do a better job on our own PR, business value. Social media gives us in PR the perfect opportunity to do that because customers are looking for an authentic relationship with brands, a solid product and answers to their questions. End of story.

    No business relationships are as squeakly clean as we’d like, you suggest. Just ask the NCAA :).

  57. ginidietrich says:

    @sydcon_mktg @KarenARocks I got to a meeting and come back and I’m suddenly hosting an awards show?! Do you think designers will send us clothes and shoes? And gift bags?! If so, I’m in!

  58. ginidietrich says:

    @sydcon_mktg @KarenARocks I got to a meeting and come back and I’m suddenly hosting an awards show?! Do you think designers will send us clothes and shoes? And gift bags?! If so, I’m in!

  59. Shonali says:

    A while back I wrote a post called “The problem with PR.” IMHO, it’s *most* PR pros. Our industry does a TERRIBLE job of defining and promoting itself. And the various bodies have a tough time working together. I think @punchakpr is probably spot on – we’re all so busy doing PR for everyone else we have NO idea how to do it for ourselves!

  60. Shonali says:

    A while back I wrote a post called “The problem with PR.” IMHO, it’s *most* PR pros. Our industry does a TERRIBLE job of defining and promoting itself. And the various bodies have a tough time working together. I think @punchakpr is probably spot on – we’re all so busy doing PR for everyone else we have NO idea how to do it for ourselves!

  61. HowieSPM says:

    Checking my bookshelf:
    Spin for Idiots
    Spinning to Win
    How to Counter the Spin of Spin
    Spin and Mash Potatoes: Not as strange a pairing as you think.
    All Spin Half the Time
    The History of Time and Spin
    Spin-normous
    12 Steps to Better Spin

    I sometimes view PR like a Laywer (and even advertising) sometimes its ethical to be paid to help someone/entity with their public image. I find it unethical for the someone/entity to be will to lie or fib to help them with their public image. Public Defender still has to do his best to give a guilty murderer a real defense. But with PR you don’t have to take the money.

    I do get a kick out of the hollywood PR stuff where I might tell my client to be seen with another star at dinner and then call the paparazzi and people magazine.

  62. HowieSPM says:

    Checking my bookshelf:
    Spin for Idiots
    Spinning to Win
    How to Counter the Spin of Spin
    Spin and Mash Potatoes: Not as strange a pairing as you think.
    All Spin Half the Time
    The History of Time and Spin
    Spin-normous
    12 Steps to Better Spin

    I sometimes view PR like a Laywer (and even advertising) sometimes its ethical to be paid to help someone/entity with their public image. I find it unethical for the someone/entity to be will to lie or fib to help them with their public image. Public Defender still has to do his best to give a guilty murderer a real defense. But with PR you don’t have to take the money.

    I do get a kick out of the hollywood PR stuff where I might tell my client to be seen with another star at dinner and then call the paparazzi and people magazine.

  63. sydcon_mktg says:

    @GiniDietrich @KarenARocks Maybe if we put a top notch “spin” on the even the will! LOL Let’s also hope that it will be held somewhere tropical, like a fancy beach hotel will offer to host it for good publicity? 🙂

  64. sydcon_mktg says:

    @GiniDietrich @KarenARocks Maybe if we put a top notch “spin” on the even the will! LOL Let’s also hope that it will be held somewhere tropical, like a fancy beach hotel will offer to host it for good publicity? 🙂

  65. KarenARocks says:

    @GiniDietrich @sydcon_mktg Gini can host, I can be the lady that doesn’t talk and escorts the winners off the stage and Jennifer can be the one who carries the suitcase with all the ballots/winners. Of course we would all need stylists and extravagant gift bags. Who’s in?

  66. KarenARocks says:

    @GiniDietrich @sydcon_mktg Gini can host, I can be the lady that doesn’t talk and escorts the winners off the stage and Jennifer can be the one who carries the suitcase with all the ballots/winners. Of course we would all need stylists and extravagant gift bags. Who’s in?

  67. sydcon_mktg says:

    @KarenARocks @ ginidietrich I am in!

  68. sydcon_mktg says:

    @KarenARocks @ ginidietrich I am in!

  69. sydcon_mktg says:

    @KarenARocks @GiniDietrich I am in!!!

  70. sydcon_mktg says:

    @KarenARocks @GiniDietrich I am in!!!

  71. ginidietrich says:

    @KeithTrivitt When I was president of the Chicago chapter, we had a really hard time deciding when to email our members and when it was too much. But I’ll tell you (focus group of one), if you sent me a special alert that said, “This Economist Article Will Make Your Blood Boil” I’d pay particular attention. Or…if you just sent it to me as a PR blogger, I’d help drive the message, too.

  72. ginidietrich says:

    @KeithTrivitt When I was president of the Chicago chapter, we had a really hard time deciding when to email our members and when it was too much. But I’ll tell you (focus group of one), if you sent me a special alert that said, “This Economist Article Will Make Your Blood Boil” I’d pay particular attention. Or…if you just sent it to me as a PR blogger, I’d help drive the message, too.

  73. ginidietrich says:

    @JGoldsborough @robbyslaughter But Justin, according to the article, we’re all just believing our own spin when it comes to social media.

  74. ginidietrich says:

    @JGoldsborough @robbyslaughter But Justin, according to the article, we’re all just believing our own spin when it comes to social media.

  75. ginidietrich says:

    @SarahSkerik You’re hilarious about Mad Men! LOL! I guess there are two things that bother me: The Economist is widely read by our clients and prospective clients and (you’re right) it’s wrought with misinformation from 100 years ago.

  76. ginidietrich says:

    @SarahSkerik You’re hilarious about Mad Men! LOL! I guess there are two things that bother me: The Economist is widely read by our clients and prospective clients and (you’re right) it’s wrought with misinformation from 100 years ago.

  77. ginidietrich says:

    @wabbitoid Totally disagree in that it’s an excellent article. It was wrought with inaccuracies as our industry is today, yet took a look at the past, from a (to use @SarahSkerik ‘s point) Luddite POV. Sure, it started at the beginning, but even after quoting Ray Kotcher and another high-level global PR professional, still ended with we just believe our own spin.

  78. ginidietrich says:

    @wabbitoid Totally disagree in that it’s an excellent article. It was wrought with inaccuracies as our industry is today, yet took a look at the past, from a (to use @SarahSkerik ‘s point) Luddite POV. Sure, it started at the beginning, but even after quoting Ray Kotcher and another high-level global PR professional, still ended with we just believe our own spin.

  79. ginidietrich says:

    @punchakpr The problem is that when people respond with a negative PR story, it’s not the PR they’re citing – it’s the company who refused to do anything (hello…Tiger Woods, BP, etc.), not the bad PR. Also, your two situations makes me laugh, just from a personal perspective. When you ask a prospective employee why they want to work here and they say, “I’m great with people,” I know the interview is finished.

  80. ginidietrich says:

    @punchakpr The problem is that when people respond with a negative PR story, it’s not the PR they’re citing – it’s the company who refused to do anything (hello…Tiger Woods, BP, etc.), not the bad PR. Also, your two situations makes me laugh, just from a personal perspective. When you ask a prospective employee why they want to work here and they say, “I’m great with people,” I know the interview is finished.

  81. ginidietrich says:

    @robbyslaughter @punchakpr @KeithTrivitt A few years ago, we hired a managing director who came from the client side. She asked me why we don’t do our own PR at Arment Dietrich. I responded that clients wanted us to do their PR…not see us in the news, too. She debated me on that topic and I soon came to learn that prospective clients, just like anyone else, want to work with who the industry says is the best. Now we do our own PR…and I’m hoping this blog helps the industry, too.

  82. ginidietrich says:

    @robbyslaughter @punchakpr @KeithTrivitt A few years ago, we hired a managing director who came from the client side. She asked me why we don’t do our own PR at Arment Dietrich. I responded that clients wanted us to do their PR…not see us in the news, too. She debated me on that topic and I soon came to learn that prospective clients, just like anyone else, want to work with who the industry says is the best. Now we do our own PR…and I’m hoping this blog helps the industry, too.

  83. ginidietrich says:

    @sydcon_mktg Thanks Jennifer! That’s extremely kind of you to say. But it’s also sad we have to remind people to be good to one another.

  84. ginidietrich says:

    @sydcon_mktg Thanks Jennifer! That’s extremely kind of you to say. But it’s also sad we have to remind people to be good to one another.

  85. ginidietrich says:

    @MaureenB2B You know I totally agree with you! And that’s what I was saying to @KeithTrivitt . If our industry doesn’t learn some basic marketing skills, like how a company makes money and how what we do helps with business growth (not just awareness), then it won’t matter what we do to enhance the industry’s perception. It’s not just the PR industry needing PR. It’s PR pros needing to understand business growth.

  86. ginidietrich says:

    @MaureenB2B You know I totally agree with you! And that’s what I was saying to @KeithTrivitt . If our industry doesn’t learn some basic marketing skills, like how a company makes money and how what we do helps with business growth (not just awareness), then it won’t matter what we do to enhance the industry’s perception. It’s not just the PR industry needing PR. It’s PR pros needing to understand business growth.

  87. ginidietrich says:

    @sydcon_mktg @KarenARocks Now that I’ve read the premise to the awards show, I really like it! A lot. I have to bring lisagerber into this conversation. Lisa, let’s think about some sort of monthly blog post that highlights the great work we’re doing for our industry. I like it!

  88. ginidietrich says:

    @sydcon_mktg @KarenARocks Now that I’ve read the premise to the awards show, I really like it! A lot. I have to bring lisagerber into this conversation. Lisa, let’s think about some sort of monthly blog post that highlights the great work we’re doing for our industry. I like it!

  89. ginidietrich says:

    @Marketing_Guy I wish it would only take this one blog post, but I’ve been beating this drum for three years. Slowly but surely.

  90. ginidietrich says:

    @Marketing_Guy I wish it would only take this one blog post, but I’ve been beating this drum for three years. Slowly but surely.

  91. ginidietrich says:

    @bdorman264 Between you and @sydcon_mktg , I’m not going to be able to get out of my door tonight! Thank you!

    You’re right…100 percent! But isn’t it sad we have to remind people to live the Golden Rule?

  92. ginidietrich says:

    @bdorman264 Between you and @sydcon_mktg , I’m not going to be able to get out of my door tonight! Thank you!

    You’re right…100 percent! But isn’t it sad we have to remind people to live the Golden Rule?

  93. ginidietrich says:

    @Shonali I think there is a reason we are attracted to like-minded people…you don’t do unethical PR work, either. And you know, great, great point about Sarah Palin. I remember being SHOCKED at how great she came across (but the shock came later after it didn’t match the rest of her). I don’t know about you, but it doesn’t matter what kind of relationship you have with a journalist, if you take them crap, they’ll never work with you again. I’ve overly sensitive to those relationships.

  94. ginidietrich says:

    @Shonali I think there is a reason we are attracted to like-minded people…you don’t do unethical PR work, either. And you know, great, great point about Sarah Palin. I remember being SHOCKED at how great she came across (but the shock came later after it didn’t match the rest of her). I don’t know about you, but it doesn’t matter what kind of relationship you have with a journalist, if you take them crap, they’ll never work with you again. I’ve overly sensitive to those relationships.

  95. ginidietrich says:

    @Shonali @punchakpr Unfortunately I think it’s *most* PR pros, too. My first lesson in that was when Harris Diamond said (and now I’m paraphrasing because it was three years ago) that we are hired to do what our clients need and if that means a spin on it, so be it.

  96. ginidietrich says:

    @Shonali @punchakpr Unfortunately I think it’s *most* PR pros, too. My first lesson in that was when Harris Diamond said (and now I’m paraphrasing because it was three years ago) that we are hired to do what our clients need and if that means a spin on it, so be it.

  97. ginidietrich says:

    @HowieSPM Two things: I love the word fib and who wrote “Spin and Mashed Potatoes”?

  98. ginidietrich says:

    @HowieSPM Two things: I love the word fib and who wrote “Spin and Mashed Potatoes”?

  99. JMattHicks says:

    I remember sitting in my PR classes in college while reviewing case studies and wondering WHY people even lie to begin with with SO many examples of lying coming back to bite people HARD. Spinning is lying, and it simply isn’t worth the risk, much less the fact that it’s unethical. I never understood that and I never will, and @GiniDietrich , I’m glad that you take the stand that you do.

  100. JMattHicks says:

    I remember sitting in my PR classes in college while reviewing case studies and wondering WHY people even lie to begin with with SO many examples of lying coming back to bite people HARD. Spinning is lying, and it simply isn’t worth the risk, much less the fact that it’s unethical. I never understood that and I never will, and @GiniDietrich , I’m glad that you take the stand that you do.

  101. MaureenB2B says:

    @GiniDietrich mwah!

  102. MaureenB2B says:

    @GiniDietrich mwah!

  103. ginidietrich says:

    @jmatthicks Spin is lying. Lying is spin.

  104. ginidietrich says:

    @jmatthicks Spin is lying. Lying is spin.

  105. JMattHicks says:

    @GiniDietrich You go girl

  106. JMattHicks says:

    @GiniDietrich You go girl

  107. Frank_Strong says:

    @GiniDietrich I am so glad that you have written this post. You are the first A-List PR blogger I have seen even acknowledge The Economist’s article. As for the trades, PRNewser ran a piece, and O’Dwyer ran a piece, which frankly, I found disappointing. Not a peep out of PRWeek or Ragan’s (or the PRDaily). This article has very real implications unworthy of the generally muted response from PR professionals working in the industry — and specifically the business case for PR as Keith noted. I found both the article, and the response, well, troubling. Kudos to PRSA for being all over this from the beginning with a strong and pointed statement. Too bad The Economist did not choose to include their letter to the editor in the subsequent edition, but then, one unnoticed fact about The Economist is that they procure PR services as well. In The Economist’s own words, the syllogism goes like this: 1) Satan pays the image man 2) The image man plays devil’s advocate 3) The Economist procures the image man’s services 4) The conclusion? It’s a valid argument even by Aristotelian logic, which is fitting since he wrote a book every PR pro should read called Rhetoric. Here’s my own take as Keith referenced above. I’ve got a running list of articles and blogs and will add this post to it as well:The Economist and PR: Stereotypes and Reflections

  108. Frank_Strong says:

    @GiniDietrich I am so glad that you have written this post. You are the first A-List PR blogger I have seen even acknowledge The Economist’s article. As for the trades, PRNewser ran a piece, and O’Dwyer ran a piece, which frankly, I found disappointing. Not a peep out of PRWeek or Ragan’s (or the PRDaily). This article has very real implications unworthy of the generally muted response from PR professionals working in the industry — and specifically the business case for PR as Keith noted. I found both the article, and the response, well, troubling. Kudos to PRSA for being all over this from the beginning with a strong and pointed statement. Too bad The Economist did not choose to include their letter to the editor in the subsequent edition, but then, one unnoticed fact about The Economist is that they procure PR services as well. In The Economist’s own words, the syllogism goes like this: 1) Satan pays the image man 2) The image man plays devil’s advocate 3) The Economist procures the image man’s services 4) The conclusion? It’s a valid argument even by Aristotelian logic, which is fitting since he wrote a book every PR pro should read called Rhetoric. Here’s my own take as Keith referenced above. I’ve got a running list of articles and blogs and will add this post to it as well:The Economist and PR: Stereotypes and Reflections

  109. dino_dogan says:

    There are few industries that seam to attract douchebaggery more so than others and PR is one of those. Some people are of course naturally subversive and PR pays you to be exactly that. From there it’s a short trip to megalomania and corruption (of both ethical and other kind).

    Its actually quite refreshing to find someone who is screaming about this stuff besides me cus Im getting hoarse overhere 🙂

  110. dino_dogan says:

    There are few industries that seam to attract douchebaggery more so than others and PR is one of those. Some people are of course naturally subversive and PR pays you to be exactly that. From there it’s a short trip to megalomania and corruption (of both ethical and other kind).

    Its actually quite refreshing to find someone who is screaming about this stuff besides me cus Im getting hoarse overhere 🙂

  111. KeithTrivitt says:

    @Frank_Strong @ginidietrich Frank – Thanks for your very kind words about PRSA’s response to The Economist article. As you noted, we did everything we could to let The Economist, our members, the broader profession and the business community know that the perspective of PR’s value portrayed in the article simply is not accurate and was both outdated and insulting to professionals.

    It was disappointing to see that our letter to the editor was not printed by The Economist (or even included in their online letters section, which often runs additional letters to the editor), but not all that surprising, given the publication’s apparently derisive viewpoint of PR. Your point about The Economist also procuring PR services (which I remember you brought up from a tweet you saw just after this article was printed) is very valid and something I would certainly like to see the publication at least disclose a little more clearly.

    Thanks again to you, Gini and many others who have touched on this article and their feeling of disrespect it showed to their profession. As always, we’ll continue to advocate on your behalf and on behalf of the business value of PR. It’s very encouraging to see others do the same so passionately.

  112. KeithTrivitt says:

    @Frank_Strong @ginidietrich Frank – Thanks for your very kind words about PRSA’s response to The Economist article. As you noted, we did everything we could to let The Economist, our members, the broader profession and the business community know that the perspective of PR’s value portrayed in the article simply is not accurate and was both outdated and insulting to professionals.

    It was disappointing to see that our letter to the editor was not printed by The Economist (or even included in their online letters section, which often runs additional letters to the editor), but not all that surprising, given the publication’s apparently derisive viewpoint of PR. Your point about The Economist also procuring PR services (which I remember you brought up from a tweet you saw just after this article was printed) is very valid and something I would certainly like to see the publication at least disclose a little more clearly.

    Thanks again to you, Gini and many others who have touched on this article and their feeling of disrespect it showed to their profession. As always, we’ll continue to advocate on your behalf and on behalf of the business value of PR. It’s very encouraging to see others do the same so passionately.

  113. Petya says:

    Hi Gini.
    First, I want to congratulate you on the highly professional post you wrote because it caused a really vital and fruitful discussion on the image of the PR business as a whole.
    Back in December, when I saw the title “Rise Of the Image Men”, I expected to read a positive journalistic text on (for example) how nowadays PR specialists work in useful cooperation with journalists thanks to the professionalism of both sides.
    So I was really disappointed to read such narrow-minded and subversive thoughts on a profession which is pretty useful for the businesses and the societies worldwide. (Actually, the text does not sound “so 2010” at all.)
    For example, in 2010 I worked on a campaign providing health information on lung diseases. As part of the campaign we organized free Spirometry tests for Bulgarians in 8 cities. The events continued just 2 hours in these 8 cities and 5 000 people tested their lungs for free. The whole organization of the 8 events was sponsored by famous pharmaceutical companies but none of them promoted a product or tried to raise their sells in a non-ethical way during the campaign. This makes me think: when the companies have ethical values and follow them, the PR actions are transparent, ethical and even positive for the society.
    As bdorman264 said we do live in a transparent world and spinning the truth can be quickly and easily recognized and crossed off. Spinning is negative for both sides – the client and the hired PR pro / agency. In addition, it’s just a very short-term decision for a current problem – we should highlight that spinning is not the long-term solution and it won’t help your business.
    It was really very valuable for me to read the whole discussion here. I know that there are great PR professionals – who just have to clean up the unclean actions of the pseudo professionals.

  114. Petya says:

    Hi Gini.
    First, I want to congratulate you on the highly professional post you wrote because it caused a really vital and fruitful discussion on the image of the PR business as a whole.
    Back in December, when I saw the title “Rise Of the Image Men”, I expected to read a positive journalistic text on (for example) how nowadays PR specialists work in useful cooperation with journalists thanks to the professionalism of both sides.
    So I was really disappointed to read such narrow-minded and subversive thoughts on a profession which is pretty useful for the businesses and the societies worldwide. (Actually, the text does not sound “so 2010” at all.)
    For example, in 2010 I worked on a campaign providing health information on lung diseases. As part of the campaign we organized free Spirometry tests for Bulgarians in 8 cities. The events continued just 2 hours in these 8 cities and 5 000 people tested their lungs for free. The whole organization of the 8 events was sponsored by famous pharmaceutical companies but none of them promoted a product or tried to raise their sells in a non-ethical way during the campaign. This makes me think: when the companies have ethical values and follow them, the PR actions are transparent, ethical and even positive for the society.
    As bdorman264 said we do live in a transparent world and spinning the truth can be quickly and easily recognized and crossed off. Spinning is negative for both sides – the client and the hired PR pro / agency. In addition, it’s just a very short-term decision for a current problem – we should highlight that spinning is not the long-term solution and it won’t help your business.
    It was really very valuable for me to read the whole discussion here. I know that there are great PR professionals – who just have to clean up the unclean actions of the pseudo professionals.

  115. HowieSPM says:

    @ginidietrich Just thought of another sinister side of PR….LOBBYISTS! I just think everyone can be bought and sold for the right price don’t you think? What number would it take to turn A-D and Super Hero Jack Bauer to the dark side? Come on there has to be a number. Name your price Gini!

    As for Spin and Mashed Potatoes that was written by William S Burroughs during his blue years between publishing Junkie and the Naked Lunch. He dabbled in Business Consulting for a time.

  116. HowieSPM says:

    @ginidietrich Just thought of another sinister side of PR….LOBBYISTS! I just think everyone can be bought and sold for the right price don’t you think? What number would it take to turn A-D and Super Hero Jack Bauer to the dark side? Come on there has to be a number. Name your price Gini!

    As for Spin and Mashed Potatoes that was written by William S Burroughs during his blue years between publishing Junkie and the Naked Lunch. He dabbled in Business Consulting for a time.

  117. ginidietrich says:

    @Petya It’s fascinating to hear about the PR industry from other parts of the world. Thank you! It’s also interesting to note that the image issue our industry has seems to be prevalent everywhere. We have some work to do, but if we band together, I think we can do it.

  118. ginidietrich says:

    @Petya It’s fascinating to hear about the PR industry from other parts of the world. Thank you! It’s also interesting to note that the image issue our industry has seems to be prevalent everywhere. We have some work to do, but if we band together, I think we can do it.

  119. ginidietrich says:

    @dino_dogan I’ll scream with you!

  120. ginidietrich says:

    @dino_dogan I’ll scream with you!

  121. ginidietrich says:

    @Frank_Strong I love it when you come visit because your views are always so strong and well-articulated! I’m also sorry I missed your take on this whole issue right before the holidays or I would have linked to it in the body of this blog post.

  122. ginidietrich says:

    @Frank_Strong I love it when you come visit because your views are always so strong and well-articulated! I’m also sorry I missed your take on this whole issue right before the holidays or I would have linked to it in the body of this blog post.

  123. ginidietrich says:

    @HowieSPM Oh come on, now! I wouldn’t put lobbyists and publicists in the PR category. They ARE snake oil salesmen.

  124. ginidietrich says:

    @HowieSPM Oh come on, now! I wouldn’t put lobbyists and publicists in the PR category. They ARE snake oil salesmen.

  125. […] is also an important ethical component of PR. PR has a bad rap. But like any profession, there are the good, the bad and the […]

  126. […] the PR industry; why Doug Davidoff thinks we don’t have a seat at the proverbial table, why The Economist is completely off-base about our industry today, and why Les McKeown is tired of hearing about the […]

  127. […] Dietrich, G. (2011, January 10). The (Wrong) Image of the PR Industry. Retrieved September 13, 2011, from Spin Sucks: http://spinsucks.com/communication/the-wrong-image-of-the-pr-industry/ […]

  128. […] Dietrich definitely falls into the latter category and says so in this blog, which in turn is commenting on this Economist article. Check out what Gini thinks and, assuming […]

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