PR Makes Me Sick

You Make Me Sick from“Find out what the client wants and give it to them” – that was the mantra of my ex-boss (mentor?) who was a particular type of PR animal. We were aggressive publicists unencumbered by analysis of the news we were flogging or the real intentions or motivations of the client. The client, really, was beside the point. The point was that if you wanted to keep your job and move up the ladder you better get your client in the news.

Burson’s efforts to discredit Google on behalf of Facebook are not shocking. Bigger PR firms represent countries that kill their own people (Libya) and companies that are complicit in oppression and even murder (Blackwater).  Burson’s sudden attack of morality and conscience in repudiating its actions really makes me sick.

They do not say what their policies on transparency are, or how they would change in the future. A vague ‘PR statement’ is not what is needed here. Who does Burson’s PR? Aren’t they supposed to be specialists in ‘reputation management’? Well, their reputation right now is in the toilet. I would like to hear a full-throated, unencumbered apology and a line-by-line accounting of how they intend to change. Isn’t that what you counsel a client to do? Sometimes, PR makes me sick.

See Sleazy PR Firm Throws Scummy Facebook Under the Sordid Bus in TechCrunch.

Now that Facebook has come forward, we can confirm that we undertook an assignment for that client.

The client requested that its name be withheld on the grounds that it was merely asking to bring publicly available information to light and such information could then be independently and easily replicated by any media.  Any information brought to media attention raised fair questions, was in the public domain, and was in any event for the media to verify through independent sources.

Whatever the rationale, this was not at all standard operating procedure and is against our policies, and the assignment on those terms should have been declined. When talking to the media, we need to adhere to strict standards of transparency about clients, and this incident underscores the absolute importance of that principle. Burson Marsteller Statement

PR/Media Week in Review 08-03-2008

Mark Rose, Editor, PRBlogNews PR Week In Review August 3, 2008

Politics & PR rumble, tumble, toil ‘n trouble

McCain’s Obama onslaught, launching negative ads that generate buzz in the pre-convention lull, is smart PR, what you expect from a wounded combatant. He’s using the media to generate media attention way beyond the ad buys alone. The first “negative” ad, which reportedly ran only six times in local markets, serves as the shot off the bow of a skirmish that will employ aggressive and creative PR tactics. It is proof of the power of PR – leveraged beyond its cost if employed correctly. McCain now has a Rove-trained attack dog who knows how to apply pain that reverberates through traditional and social media. Early advantage: GOP.

Barack Obama has so much money (his real advantage) that he can employ the best PR minds (sic) that money can buy.  Can Demos fend off the ‘wimp’ and ‘neophyte deluded celebrity’ tags the GOP is trying to pin on Obama? The answer to that could lead to victory in November. Lieberman and Kerry squared off on “Meet the Press” today to set the tenor of the escalating attack vs response cycle that will spin out as we head to the conventions. Obama can gain advantage by sticking Kerry in a corner and taping his mouth shut for the next couple of months. He seems to embarass Demos, and himself (not that he has that much self-awareness) whenever he speaks. He’s a loser – didn’t anybody tell him?

I don't care about politics, cartoon

Mark Penn, head of Burson-Marsteller, is still smarting from the lashing he took as head Hillary Clinton pollster and message maven. Upfront it was obvious that Penn would go down in flames – you can’t head a PR agency involved in as much high level weirdness as Burson and not bring down a Presidential candidate. Penn has been on a mission since rejoining Burson to to present a non-partisian face to the public, most notably by hiring failed Republican spinner Karen Hughes to bolster business from both sides of the aisle.

Apparently, top-level Demo and GOP spinsters agree that money is infinitely more important than beliefs. And Hughes showed right off that she is perfectly suited for the PR agency business by dispatching an email to Bursonites full of hyperbole, obfuscations and excalmations that reads like a qualifying statement for $600+/hr PR consultant:

“today’s leaders in business and government face the challenge of thinking globally and acting locally, developing broad umbrella themes that shape perceptions of their industry, brand or product, while also customizing those messages for many different customers and cultures.” – excerpt from Karen Hughes email to Burson employees

This week 23/6 (Some of the news/Most of the time) launches its Get Your War On animated series by comic David Rees. First episode below, new episodes weekly. The political season is upon us.