Saturday, January 29, 2005

PR is dead, says Blogger; Sky is falling, says Chicken

PR is dead, according to Linda Zimmer at ZnetLady:ModernMediaModo: PR is dead. Long live MC.

Writes ZnetLady, "PR was dead. Ketchum just did the requiem."

Ms. Zimmer, like all of us in PR and PR bloggers in particular, was set off first by Ketchum's role in buying columnists for the Bush administration; second, by Jay Rosen's blog castigating PR bloggers for not rushing to the barricades and setting everything on fire.

If you're not part of our microcosm, please do check out PressThink for this particular post. Everything you’ve read how blogs feed and feed and feed upon each other can be witnessed here.

For the most part, Rosen’s argument has no merit. His post, “Bloggers Are Missing in Action as Ketchum Tests the Conscience of PR,” is discounted by all who commented and quickly disproved here—Jay Rosen versus PR Bloggers, by Marc Snyder.

But back to Ms. Zimmer contention that PR is dead.

She writes, “Let 'PR' pass from this world peacefully. Don’t try to re-brand it or mange its reputation. The function is needed (even by those who denigrate it) – but the perception has crippled it beyond repair.”

I for one will not go gently into that good night.

We are wounded, yes, but we’re far from dead.

Perceptions can be changed. Reputations can be repaired. This is what we do, right?

That is, unless, like the physicians that can’t heal themselves, we are also incapable of consulting to our own.

Once the headlines have faded, the bloggers have moved on, history will view PR people as hairdressers with bad haircuts--we've just been too busy to attend to our own upkeep. (See Ketchum PR: Dumb-Ass Branding -- And A Blown Opportunity at Redemption.)

Still, we're not quite dead yet.


Paying Pundits is Propaganda Proclaims Pelosi

"When I was a kid, a journalist who took money from the government was a propagandist, someone who worked at Pravda for the KGB," to quote myself in a previous post.

Apparently Representative Nancy Pelosi and twenty other ranking congressional leaders feel the same.

President Urged to Order Full Disclosure of Covert Propaganda

The House wants the President to release all contracts signed by the Administration during its "secret publicity campaigns." While the Senate has introduced a "Stop Government Propaganda Act," to which Dan Gillmor states, "If people can't support this bill, they are outright endorsing corruption of the press. Period."

Ray Kotcher, CEO of Ketchum, writes in PR Week that his agency, for its role in this scandal "is currently under the microscope, the PR industry at large is about to be viewed through a telescope. For starters, a public-interest group called Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington has filed a series of Freedom of Information Act requests to 22 government agencies, including all cabinet agencies, requesting copies of all contracts with PR firms."

Thanks, Ray.

If you're called to testify before Congress, here's my media training advice:

Do everything you can to keep the photographers from shooting you from the Angle of Guilt. You know what I'm talking about. These guys squat down below and in front of the committee dais and shoot upwards at the testify-ee.

Keep the photogs away from this shot.

This is not a good angle for anyone.


Thursday, January 27, 2005

Pundit Payola: And McManus makes three

These guys are for hire? Jeez, 15 years in and I've always been doing this the hard way.


Mike McManus
, whose "Ethics & Religion," column appears in 50 newspapers, is now the third columist implicated in the growing payola scandal involving conservative columnists taking money from the Bush administration.

For those of you scoring at home, here are the other payola pundits who promoted presidential policies while cashing the presidential paycheck:

Armstrong Williams, failed to disclose a $241,000 Education Department contract to promote the president's No Child Left Behind law

Maggie Gallagher, failed to disclose a a $21,500 contract from the Department of Health and Human Services to promote the president's "healthy marriage."

As sure as there are more praise-for-pay pundits yet to be revealed, you can count on all the bloggers, those of us who chatter-on-the-cheap, to have our say about this over the next several days.

When I was a kid, a journalist who took money from the government was a propagandist, someone who worked at Pravda for the KGB.

From USA TODAY: "Kelly McBride, a media ethics scholar at the Poynter Institute, said any journalist should at least disclose such payments to readers. 'Any time anyone gives you money, you have a loyalty to them, and that's a conflict," she said.'"


Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Finding James S. Moran: The Last PR Samurai

NOTE: Just republished this post over on my new blog. Still hoping to find out more about Mr. Moran's life.

Back during the height of the boom I read a NY Times obituary on James S. Moran, who died at age 91, after a four decade career in

We give great praise to those who think "outside the box." But Mr. Moran never even set one foot inside.

His life story changed my life. But outside of his obit, I can't seem to find a lot of information about him.

According to this paper, Journalists' Hostility Toward Public Relations: A Historical Analysis, here is some of Moran's work:

"To help a dairy get a cow into print, he dyed it purple; to promote refrigerators, he traveled to Alaska to prove that he could sell an icebox to an Eskimo; and to promote the 1946 movie The Egg and I, he sat on an ostrich egg until it hatched (a feat that took 19 days, 4 hours, and 32 minutes)."

In his obit, the NY Times mentioned that Moran once had a stunt called off when he couldn't get the proper permits. To promote a movie, he wanted to use kites to fly midgets over Central Park and it seems NY city officials had a problem with that.

I paraphrase Mr. Moran's well-covered reaction: "There's something wrong with this country when a man can't fly a midget over a park on a kite."

That's a PR man's PR man. Denied his stunt, he still got the ink.

On the Internets I've only been able to find one other reference the Mr. Moran. Google Answers has someone seeking photographs:

"During the late 1930's or early 1940's an master independent publicity stunt(PR)agent named James S. Moran wanted to generate publicity for a newly released record. The record was entitled either "Shoot the Sherbert to me, Herbert" or "Pass the meatballs to me Dominick, my boy". Both records are jazz records probably done by two different musical groups; The Merry Macs and Tommy Dorsey.

"The publicity stunt orchestrated by PR agent James S. Moran, involved renting a dinning room at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in NYC. Mr. Moran brought in lots of meatballs and sherbert and people named Herbert and Dominick and then promoted the biggest food fight there ever was."

The person seeking the photos, "publicitytracker2002-ga,"never found them.

Does anyone out there have any information regarding Mr. Moran? If so, please contact me.

Where have you gone James S. Moran?/Our industry turns its lonely eyes to you/(Woo, woo,woo).


Steve Rubel's Blog Crisis Communications Planning 101

Want to know how blogs should fit into your crises containment plan? Check out this elegant and smart article at Micro Persuasion: Blog Crisis Communications Planning 101.

I've recently been urging all my clients to carpe blog, to enter the blogosphere and blog first before they blog you. This week I've been crafting a best practices manual for corporate blogging and I think the five steps that Steve Rubel and friends laid out during Blog Business Summit should be adopted by everyone in .


Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Ad on Andrew Fischer's Forehead: It Ain't Me, Babe


Putting the SnoreStop ad on this guy's forehead wasn't my doing! Thanks to everyone who called and emailed today, asking if I had anything to do with this stunt.

Here's the press release from the real culprits, Crier Communications, a SoCal PR agency:

Heads-Up! SnoreStop Highest Bidder to Place Ad on Andrew Fischer's Forehead for One Month; $37,375.00 eBay Bid a Surprise from Daughter of SnoreStop CEO Christian de Rivel

They get extra points for the creative CEO quote that compliments young Andrew Fischer for his "head for business." Should get lots of pick up, that quote.

Crier's Peter Berk should be having a fun day today. It will be interesting to watch this agency's efforts to keep the story alive for a couple more news cycles. Peter, when things slow down, give me a call. I've got some ideas on how to keep making headlines.

Have you seen the rapid Newtonian opposite re-action in the blogosphere? In fact, there's even a Forehead Ad Blocker, a new product for auction up on eBay.


Monday, January 24, 2005

"Infamous Terrorist Launches New Attack" or, Local TV News Station Yells Fire in Crowded Theater

Last night, fifteen minutes before the ten o'clock news, K-EYE, the Austin CBS affiliate, announced, "Infamous Terrorist Launches New Attack, tune in at 10."

Holy crap, thinks I.

What's going on? Should I pull out the Kevlar vests, grab the shotgun and shove the whole family down into the fallout shelter? And if we're in imminent danger, why are they making us wait fifteen minutes?

Omigawd! Lord help us all!!

Fortunately, we have the Internets. So, I stopped hoarding gold and boiling water and rushed to my computer and saw the headlines all over Google News: al-Zarqawi has declared a "bitter war."

In Iraq. For the elections next Sunday.

Whew. They were only teasing us about terrorism so we'd watch their broadcast!

Imagine my relief.

I began re-rolling the concertina wire and turned my attention back to K-EYE to see how they'd report the story. But unbelievably, they lead off with the death of Johnny Carson.

Omigawd, they're doing it again--they're terrorist teases!

Now I make my living by taking a complex technology story and reshaping it for the more simple demands of television.

"Will ___________ (insert product here) mean more jobs for the Bay Area? Tune in tonight at 11 to hear about...."

And I've long ago stopped being annoyed when the local weatherman teases the evening broadcast with, "Will it be raining cats and dogs tonight or just kitties and puppies?" I just don't watch TV for weather or news because everything I want to know is an online click away.

But K-EYE's tease was despicable. And post 9/11 what they did was tantamount to yelling fire in a crowded theater.

Does the FCC get complaints about news lead-ins? Or are they merely the dirty word police?

Thank god for the Internets. And for John Stewart.

So instead of filing an angry complaint with the FCC or sending a nasty email to K-EYE's station manager, I just won't watch their newscast.

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Sunday, January 23, 2005

Good Luck in NYC, Darcy

Good luck, Darcy!

It's been a pleasure working with you. I knew when we first met that you were destined for great things. I only wish we'd worked together longer so I could take credit for all your future success. 8-)

Please stay in touch....