Jack O'Dwyer ripercorre gli eventi più rilevanti del 2006 nel mondo delle RP
Un paio di settimane fa avevamo segnalato sul nostro sito la 'prima puntata' della panoramica dei principali eventi del 2006 che Jack O'Dwyer - giornalista ed editore statunitense specializzato nel settore delle RP - ha pubblicato sul suo sito www.odwyerpr.com.Oggi la riproponiamo insieme alla 'parte seconda' che - grazie all'offerta speciale che O'Dwyer lancia per tutto il mese di gennaio - è possibile consultare liberamente dal suo sito web.2006 Year in Review - Part IThe tragic war in Iraq, and charges that the truth about it is not being told, dominated the news in 2006. The U.S. has to choose between the Shiites and the Sunnis and cannot continue supporting both since this war is now longer than World War II. Since the Shiites outnumber the Sunnis nearly 4-1, the choice is painful but obvious.
The alleged lies about Iraq, dating from years ago, are all being laid at the foot of PR. This war has been "PR'ed" to the hilt, said the New York Times' Frank Rich, who wrote a book about it. Tavis Smiley, keynoter at the PRSA national conference, was no doubt referring partly to Iraq when he urged the audience of 2,000+ to "stop the spinning...the mendacity." The speech was the most accessed story on odwyerpr.com in November, showing PR pros are concerned about PR's image. What is PR? To critics, it's boundless, mindless enthusiasm in the face of disaster. The Bush Administration is still talking about democracy, freedom, liberty, and "winning" in Iraq despite many indications these goals are unattainable.
Smiley said the public is so fed up with hokum that it craves "sophomoric" reality shows like "American Idol" because "they're honest."The New Yorker (Dec. 8) had a satiric essay about various epidemics including "Spin Control Syndrome" whose symptoms are "increased perkiness" as the victim makes everything in his or her life sound "just terrific." Wife left you? "She's spending a good deal of time traveling." Son in prison? "He's exploring creative opportunities in a structured environment," etc.
There were four big media hits on PR during the year: the Smiley speech; the July 13 Rich essay saying PR is synonymous with "sloganeering, marketing, lack of substance," etc.; Der Spiegel Aug. 7 calling PR the "Master of Deception" that "even assists in staging wars," and the Washington Post's Steve Pearlstein who wrote Oct. 27 that he is fed up with green "twenty-somethings" calling him up and not having answers. He said "globalism" in PR has not resulted in "economies of scale" but "a few bureaucratic behemoths that overcharge and under-perform, driving away their best talent."
On the positive side, The Economist Jan. 19 said "PR is an increasingly vital marketing tool" especially as traditional ad forms decline in influence. PR is trying to "move up the corporate pecking order" with a "host of new stratagems," it adds. PR as a "brand-building tool" was lauded in The Advertiser of the Assn. of National Advertisers. The article headlined: "PR Steals the Spotlight." One problem with marketers is they're deadly serious, which is opposite to the insouciant, irreverent atmosphere of a newsroom. PR took more of a soft sell, light-hearted approach while marketing is often hard sell and even harsh sell.
As an example of the obsession of business with $$, Hearst CEO Victor Ganzi refused to be interviewed in person by the NYT for a feature on the new Hearst building, saying, "It doesn't make the Hearst Corp. another dollar."
A highly enthusiastic person at PRSA is 2007 president Rhoda Weiss, who says she is known to clients as "the energizer bunny." She outlined scores of initiatives at the 2006 Assembly including expanding the APR program to specialized APRs in the 19 sections. She is studying for a Ph.D. in "Leadership and Change in the Professions" from ultra-liberal Antioch University whose credo is, "One cannot be a scholar and keep secrets." Grads "lead organizational change in their professions." We know of no organization that is more secretive, undemocratic and change-resistant than PRSA.
Educators' dominance of PRSA was evident at the annual conference where only educators won awards. Debra Miller got the Gold Anvil and Parke Gibson awards; Prof. Melvin Sharpe, Distinguished Service; Prof. Dean Kruckeberg, Jackson, Jackson & Jackson Behavioral Science; Prof. Carol Ann Hackley, Lund Public Service, and Prof. Bruce Berger, Outstanding Educator (no quarrel there).
A major disappointment was SPAM. Despite all efforts to thwart it, SPAM doubled in 2006.
There's a lot of talk about PR promoting "diversity" but diversity in PR would mean adding men. More than 90% of PR undergrads are women. An NYT feature headlined "At Colleges, Women Are Leaving Men in the Dust," portrayed male undergrads as childish (obsessed with video games), unfocused, lazy, unmotivated and cut-ups (e.g., Duke lacrosse team hiring strippers). Solution: men serve two years in the army before going to college so they have time to "grow up."
The European culture of secrecy has invaded many industries where leading players sold out to the Europeans (especially ad/PR). "The whole notion of transparency is completely foreign to most European companies," The Ragan Report was told by a veteran communicator at the Blackbrooke Institute conference in Spain in October attended by PR people from many countries. European companies tell employees little and the public, less.
Toni Muzi Falconi, founder, Global Alliance for PR and past president, Italian PR Federation (tonisblog.com), said in a paper to the Institute for PR that only a few percent of the three million people in PR worldwide (400,000 in the U.S.) are in PR associations because such groups "are not doing their job" although "some are worse and some are better." Such groups, before thinking of their members' interests, must also think of the audiences of their members, he said.
2006 Year in Review - Part II
One of the biggest threats ever to the PR industry gathered steam in 2006 as usage of VNRs came under increasing fire. The FCC wants to ensure that broadcasters will identify the sources of VNRs but has not yet made rules.
The threat is that the "baby will be thrown out with the bathwater" (VNRs will be saddled with disclaimers that will preclude usage). VNR producers say the law already calls for identification of sources of political or controversial matters and such decisions should be made by the broadcasters.
High executive pay was a continuous topic of the New York Times and New York Post with the year capped off by reports of Goldman Sachs paying $16.5 billion to its 26,000 employees including billions in Holiday bonuses ($623,41 total pay per employee but some getting as much as $100 million). "It seems almost criminal," huffed NYT columnist Andrew Sorkin. The paper wrote about a new "super duper"class of the rich.
Goldman Sachs office cleaners in London, hit by cutbacks, threatened a strike, the NYT reported. A trader who made $98M was stalked by paparazzi and an extravagant GS party was ridiculed.
The Trouble with Diversity, a new book, says the much-touted goal of diversity is really a diversion, a red herring designed to throw the non-rich off the real problemthe accelerating transfer of wealth to the wealthier while most of us tread water.
One of the highest paid CEOs in the "Forbes 500" was Omnicom's John Wren, who came in at 102nd with 2004 pay of $13.4M (2005 was not yet available). Forbes found he was not too "efficient" (giving value for pay received). He ranked 89 out of 189 CEOs on this scale since the six-year "annual total return" of OMC was -2%.
OMC is still about $5 below its Dec. 17, 1999 high of $107 despite pulling 17M shares off the market (nearly $1B of borrowed funds helped to do this).
Yahoo!Finance reported Wren owns 366,690 shares worth $37M. He also has numerous options. Lauren Fine of Merrill Lynch, usually upbeat about the stock, said in 2002 that the amount of options OMC executives gave to themselves was "staggering." Wren's options on 2M shares at $79.50 would have been worth $160M had OMC reached the target of $165 set in the $850M zero-bond offerings via Merrill Lynch in 2002.
Fine expressed "surprise" at the cost of the drawn-out Class Action lawsuit vs. OMC dating from 2002 charges of accounting fraud. Many new details surfaced, implicating Wren and CFO Randall Weisenburger, after a ruling by a federal judge. OMC has turned its uncommunicative back not only on the press and public but on Wall Street, which is a big reason for the seven-year stock stall. The NYT remained silent on the suit while the NYP and WSJ have run major stories on it.
A lot of corporate attention has shifted from "PR" to lobbying with the number of lobbyists in D.C. doubling to 30,000 in five years.
Industry and labor groups spent $2.14B on this in 2004, up 34% since 2001. Instead of the "People's House," Congress has become "the Auction House," said Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.). New York State's 212 lawmakers are outnumbered 18-1 by lobbyists, the highest ratio in the U.S. Second is Florida (13-1).
Lobbyists are unflagging in their service of legislators, available 24/7 and eager to provide endless documentation of their points of view. They have no doubts about the importance of their audience. The friction that accompanies much PR/press relations is absent.
CNBC financial broadcaster Maria Bartiromo, facing turn-downs from shy CEOs, urged them to avoid their PR depts. and call her directly. She said she and other reporters will give CEOs "a fair shake."
PRSA announced on Dec. 27 (were they trying to bury this story?) the appointment of William Murray as president/COO. A 20-year veteran of catching international copyright violators for the Motion Picture Assn., he might be interested in PRSA?s 1993-96 battle with a dozen authors who claimed PRSA violated their copyrights.
Author Al Ries knocked the big ad agencies for almost eliminating their corporate ads and instead focusing on winning awards and publicizing them in the belief that "publicity generates clients."
Ex-NYT reporter Alex Jones, now at Harvard, said too many media are avoiding complexity to cater to the "perceived wants of their audiences."
While the gap between PR/press seems to be increasing, we ran into a number of PR firms that describe themselves as "100% media-oriented."
They study reporters' stories and backgrounds; bone up for months on subject matter, and make client CEOs available for interviews.
The O'Dwyer Co., which had never given out awards, started to do so for campaigns that seek to educate audiences about a subject in detail, provide executives for questioning, and/or take part in public debate, where truth is often hammered out.
2007 marks the 25th anniversary of the Tylenol murders, PR's No. 1 crisis case. Johnson & Johnson's "immediate," "instant," etc., pullback of the capsules will be examined. How immediate is seven days and who, by then, was selling Tylenol capsules, a flawed product easily tampered with?