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Il 2005 delle rp

03/01/2006

L'anno che è passato secondo Jack O'Dwyer: un bilancio delle relazioni pubbliche. Ecco l'intero articolo.

2005: YEAR IN REVIEW
There's no doubt that the leading issue in 2005 was information or lack of it. Bad intelligence (information) is blamed by many for putting us into the Iraq war. Information is deemed so important that many Americans believe torture is justified to obtain it. Does the public think information is important? Google soared from $100 to $400+. But disinformation has reached such proportions that a best-seller in 2005 was a 67-page essay called On B.S.PR was named as one source of B.S. and also named were politicians, academics and lawyers. Another book was The Truth about B.S. in which it's claimed that "Most of what passes for news is B.S." A third book was Deeper into B.S. by an Oxford University professor. B.S. is defined as being sloppy with facts, "indifferent" to truth, or actually attempting to "gull the public." Says The Truth about B.S.: "Never before have so many people uttered statements they know to be untrue."Collecting information is a dangerous job. Murder is the leading cause of job-related deaths among journalists worldwide, says the Committee to Protect Journalists. Since 2000, 190 journalists have died on duty and 121 of them were "hunted down and murdered in retaliation for their work." Their murderers are almost never caught. The Philippines, Colombia, Russia and Iraq, among others, "fail to investigate and punish the killers," says the Committee. While murder is not an occupational hazard for U.S. journalists, being "blackballed" is. Teri Agins, Wall Street Journal fashion reporter, said she is afraid to write too many exposes because people might "stop talking to her." The fashion industry "can be very punitive," she said. Ditto for many other industries. The press as well as PR took lumps for failure to deliver the truth. Michael Wolff in Vanity Fair blamed military PR for "obstructionism" about information related to the Iraq war. Visiting a military PR operation in Qatar two years ago, Wolff says he was struck by its daily diet of "dubious, incorrect, unverified, and self-serving" materials. But he also knocked reporters for going along with a charade in which they pretended they were getting the straight skinny.Major media invested heavily in the press facility at Qatar and "given the investment, everybody has an interest in covering up the sketchiness," he wrote. Newsweek's Jonathan Alter, blasting the $300 million in Pentagon contracts over the next five years to The Rendon Group, Lincoln Group (formerly Iraqex) and others to plant favorable stories in the Iraqi press, called it a "PR pork scandal." Rendon, according James Bamford in Rolling Stone, put the NYT's Judith Miller and others in touch with their "bum sources" on WMD. One of the biggest knocks to PR's chin was the Feb. 23 lead article in the Sunday Feb. 13 New York Times titled "Spinning Frenzy: PR's Bad Press." It was written by Timothy O'Brien who later in the year published an unauthorized bio of Donald Trump. O'Brien and Trump exchanged angry words.The healthcare industry, a big user of advertising and PR, came under attack from outside and inside. Journalists at the PRSA Health Academy in D.C. in May said the industry's reputation is at an all time low. This was seconded Dec. 2 in New York by Billy Tauzin, president, Pharmaceutical Research and Mfrs. of America at a meeting of healthcare professionals. Paul Krugman of the NYT on Dec. 16 started a series of columns on healthcare in which he says "growing conflicts of interest may be distorting both medical research and healthcare in general."The web continued to make inroads on print, especially newspapers, which have lost much of their classified ads to services like Craigslist. Unique visitors to classified ad websites soared from 14 million in September 2004 to 26 million in 2005. A shift to web ads continued with the Nov. 16 Wall Street Journal reporting that some sites are "sold out" for their best spots and are "dramatically raising rates." MSN charges $300K to $1 million for a 24-hour spot, up from $25K-$50K four years ago.Newspapers, hit with circulation declines, are launching a campaign to show they have a lot of "pass-along" readers. NYT CEO Janet Robinson said papers should get "full credit for such readers." Newspaper Assn. of America is targeting national advertisers, who pay a much higher rate than local advertisers. The New York Times, source of many a lecture to others about ethical issues, had its own ethical problems. Prudential Equity Group criticized the NYT and its Boston Globe unit for leaving out, respectively, 20 and 27 issues in calculating "average" circulation (citing bad weather, holiday, etc.). Most papers leave out two days, said Pru.
Unkindest cut dept.: NYT's own Floyd Norris, in a column on the trouble Knight Ridder is having in selling itself, wrote, "The consensus Wall Street view of newspapers now is that they are a dying breed, destined to wither under relentless competition from the likes of Google." An index of newspaper stocks was down 22% in 2005. The NYT itself is $27, down from the $50's in 2002. After "five decades" of trying, the U.K.'s Institute of PR (IPR) was granted (Royal) Charter status by the Privy Council, a group of 500 lords, dukes, barons, earls, viscounts, etc. The newly named CIPR, with 8,000 members, feels its Chartered status will be a good sales point for member prospects. Not everyone thinks highly of the Privy Council, which advises the Queen. Member Roy Hattersley said it's an "absurdity" that should be "abolished."Meanwhile, PRSA, with no such thing as a U.S. Privy Council to grant similar exalted status, is having trouble with its 40-year-old accreditation process. A new exam started 2.5 years ago, is mostly being ignored. Only 145 new PRSA APRs were created in the first 27 months vs. at least 600 that would have become APR with the old test. Oddly, the new multiple-choice APR exam, usually passed by 65% of PRSA applicants, was suddenly passed by 97% in the third quarter of 2005 (32 of 33), raising suspicions of "grade inflation."PR grads who can't locate PR jobs should look into lobbying. D.C. lobbyists have doubled to 35,000 since 2000 and "connected" new lobbyists (ex-Capitol Hill) start at $200K-$300K. Public opinion may be important but even more important is what laws are passed. Tip: start career with a legislator. Also neglected is fund-raising (June 19 New York Times). Salaries start at $40K and the work is "not onerous." Philanthropy.com lists100 groups looking for fund-raisers, grant writers, event planners, etc. There are 1.8 million non-profit groups.Journalism professors Renita Coleman and Lee Wilkins studied ad people and found them unmindful of ethical concerns (i.e., they would take a liquor account even if they were against drinking). The professors got a $10K grant from the Arthur Page Foundation to give a similar test on-site to PR pros. PR greats Harold Burson, Daniel Edelman, Al Golin and David Finn gave their views of PR at a breakfast seminar of the O'Dwyer Co. that celebrated the 35th edition of O'Dwyer's Directory of PR Firms.Rising interest rates are pinching business including Omnicom, which a couple of years ago was able to float zero-interest contingent convertibles (CoCo bonds) with no interest but an expectation of a stock rise). OMC paid $48M in "sweeteners"on such bonds in the past year (interest rate of 3.75%) to keep holders from demanding their money back. OMC's stock has risen lately to high $80's but is still $20 below the $107 reached six years ago on Dec. 17, 1999. Its website boasts 16 straight years of record results. Why has this stock lagged?A "potentially huge new ad medium" is "mobile marketing," says Bear Stearns, which met with executives of WPP, OMC and IPG in December. Mobile phone users (1.4 billion) outnumber landline subscribers. Some 350 billion text messages are exchanged monthly, 15% commercial in nature. Michael Wolff says reporters should admit when they're snookered and not pretend everything is rosy. We think he's right. We were lied to flat out by PRSA on its biggest story of the year� the cancellation of its printed One Source Directory in favor of an online version.This action, planned all year by a committee headed by treasurer Rhoda Weiss, was kept from the members and even most leaders but leaked to us Oct. 5. Queried, PRSA told us this was being considered when the decision had actually been made. The next day, PRSA e-mailed about 600 leaders saying publication of One Source had "ceased." How could you give us false information, we asked PRSA's PR dept.? The answer was we couldn't possibly let you scoop us with leaders on such a major story. In other words, lying about One Source was justifiable. The PRSA board also pulled the rug out from under PR which had promised us the usual audiotape of the Assembly. PR now tells us the board won't let it give out the tape. It will be a battle to get this tape, which has a long discussion of proxy-voting. Almost any information from PRSA involves a battle.PRSA Assembly members were shocked when COO Catherine Bolton told them Dec. 3 she was resigning as of Dec. 31, 2006. Why would anyone resign a year in advance, they wondered? We think the board wanted this decision announced much later. The 2005 board was the most secretive ever and not prone to revealing the inner workings of the Society. We wonder if such hardball tactics will continue in 2006. Incoming PRSA president is Cheryl Procter-Rogers of the HBO unit of Time Warner. TW is in the news these days trying to ward off corporate raider Carl Icahn, who says he is tired of TW's "PR machine" saying what a good job management is doing. He wants a count of the PR pros at TW and its units and the amount spent for outside PR. Ed Adler is executive VP-CC at TW. The weak PRSA board virtually eliminated its own self by agreeing that the five-member executive committee can serve as the "flexible extension of the full board." PRSA/Miami complained in vain that this would make the other 12 directors "eunuchs.""O'Dwyer Awards" were started to recognize PR campaigns that involve interaction with the press and public (vs. one-way messaging). Public discussion, availability of CEOs and/or other top executives for questioning are qualifications for this award.

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