Friday musings on the most critical of PR issues

Important stuff that popped into my head today…

gore.jpgAl Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize, and you know that by now. But did you notice how the honor came less than 48 hours after I praised his intellect and perceptiveness? Coincidence? I’m telling you, this blogosphere is more powerful than you think. I’m gonna check my stats for referrals from Oslo.

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howardbeale.jpgHave you thought about the similarities between Jack O’Dwyer and Howard Beale, the character in the 1976 film, jack_new.jpg“Network”? Both are characters so angry about the status quo of their professions that they begin railing loudly and publicly about it. In the movie, Howard draws a huge following to chant his mantra: “We’re as mad as hell, and we’re not gonna to take this anymore!”

I wonder if Jack can assemble a similar group of loyalists when the PRSA Assembly gathers in Philadelphia next week? I’d pay to see it. I’ve spoken to PR pros who thinks Jack could be more effective if he toned down the anger in his message. But you know, Jack was pretty reasonable for most of his 30+ years as journalist and industry critic, and what did it get us?

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Crisis Creds. I attended the PRSA luncheon in Cleveland yesterday. Yeah, they still let me in, and a lot of them said they enjoyed my round-by-round call of the PRSA-O’Dwyer fight.

toptitle.gifYesterday’s luncheon capped off a half-day crisis-management seminar. It featured two young PR pros who related a case in which their employer’s mistake led to the deaths of three newborn babies. They managed the crisis in textbook style, and I think the younger pros in the crowd got some great advice. We old farts had heard it many times before.

What surprised me was that Methodist Hospital and its CEO Sam Odle earned such public accolades for their honest and forthright approach to news media and other parties. Some of the loudest applause, they say, was triggered by Odle’s willingness to immediately own up to the error and accept full responsibility for the infants’ deaths.

Fair enough, but isn’t that Chapter One, Lesson One, in the Crisis Management Handbook? Kudos to the folks at Methodist for excellent management in the face of such a tragedy, and also for sharing their experiences with other PR pros. We need to talk about these issues.

But what does it say about our profession and American business in general when we earn the equivalent of a standing ovation for simply doing the right thing? Isn’t that what we’re obligated to do? How else do you sleep at night?

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I’m still chuckling over two comments posted to this blog yesterday by Steven Streight, aka, Vaspers the Grate. Check out comments 5 and 6 at this post, along with my measured response. Vaspers doesn’t have much use for my pal Amanda Chapel, and he thinks Amanda weak for her inability to “troll” with him, Scoble or Rubel on Twitter.

I haven’t studied the Twitter exchange between Vaspers and Amanda (and I probably won’t). Sounds like a cyberspace smack-down between digital bullies, and it makes me wonder where these folks find the time for such nonsense.

So I think it’s a good time to issue this reminder: The vast majority of civilization neither knows or cares what we do in this insular world called the blogosphere. Let’s try not to forget that.

Hat tip to Todd Defren, whose post of August 30 helped adjust my perspective.

See you all next week. Until then, “Go Tribe!

2 Responses to Friday musings on the most critical of PR issues

  1. Kami Huyse says:

    Bill; I am just not one to believe the means justify the end. But hey, that is just me.

  2. Bill Sledzik says:

    Kami…Since I’m pretty sure you aren’t talking about Al and global climate change, I’ll assume you’re referencing Jack O’Dwyer. (That one downside of including 4 items in a post!) Call it frustration on my part, but in my 25 years in PRSA, I’ve seen how hard it is for new voices and new approaches to be heard — and just how closed the nominating process can be. Digital communication has changed the dynamics of the debate and will, I hope, bring new ideas forward.

    Jack will be Jack, regardless of the channel he uses. That said, I’m hoping his better ideas can gain a foothold. I’ll be interested to see how things go next week, and I’ll be flowing your blogging efforts from Philly.

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