Free laptops land Edelman in ethics hotseat — again

January 3, 2007

banner_logo.gifThe latest flap involving Edelman, ethics and the blogosphere has me wondering: Should PR pros treat their relationship with bloggers differently than their relationship with the mainstream media (MSM)? The campaign in question, from Microsoft/Edelman, presents a clear, but different set of values for dealing with the bloggers versus MSM, and that’s troubling.

Backstory: Microsoft, through Edelman, sent high-end laptops loaded with the new MS Vista software to 90 influential tech bloggers. Bloggers were invited to evaluate the software, but also invited to return, give away, or keep the machines, said to be worth $2,200-$2,400 each. Critics smell a bribe intended to influence blogger opinions. Supporters say Microsoft is just facilitating input from the experts. Read the rest of this entry »

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Gambling presents a genuine PR dilemma…or does it?

October 2, 2006

It’s a page-one story in my local newspaper today, but it’s playing out in dozens of communities around the country. It’s the debate over casino gambling, and it presents a real ethical dilemma for PR professionals who promote it. Or at least it should.

The story in my area involves the quaint village of Canal Fulton, Ohio, located along the historic Ohio & Erie Canal. Some of the economic development forces there favor200px-bandera_eastern_shawnee.png a proposal from Oklahoma’s Eastern Shawnee tribe to build a mini-Las Vegas on 50 acres just outside of town. While the State of Ohio officially opposes the project, the tribe seems ready to take on the governor and anyone else who gets in the way. Read the rest of this entry »


Elmo story tickled me, the media, my class

September 27, 2006

OK, I probably shouldn’t be giggling over the story of a man whose life was threatened when he refelmo.jpgused to give up his new Tickle Me Elmo dolls. It happened in a Target store in Tampa, and no one there was laughing. But how can you NOT manage a smirk over some lunatic who risks a felony charge (he claimed he had a gun and would shoot the other customer if he didn’t give up the dolls) for some goofy $40 toy?

I led a discussion about the story in my Media Relations class yesterday at Kent State, and together the students and I explored three different lessons. Read the rest of this entry »


Public relations ethics — in 5 minutes

September 14, 2006

If you had just 5 minutes to summarize the major ethical issues facing public relations professionals, what would you say?

It happened last week when Lauren, a PR major at West Virginia University, contacted me via email for input on a paper she was writing. She was on deadline; I had a class to teach. If I didn’t answer her immediately, I knew I never would. Besides, it’s good PR for Kent State. Here’s my 5-minute response to a semester-long question, edited slightly to tighten copy and fix typos. What would you have said in your 5 minutes? Read the rest of this entry »


“Doing good and telling” still works

September 13, 2006

Doing good and telling.

It’s one of the first definitions of public relations I learned. It goes back to the 70s when I was a clueless sophomore at Ohio University. It was before the Grunigs gave us the symmetrical model, but not before Cutlip & Center included “responsible performance” as one of four major components in their 1952 definition of PR.

Wherever it came from, that old concept of “doing good stephon_marbury.jpgand telling” hit home yesterday when I read about a celebrity appearance by NBA star Stephon Marbury in Ashtabula, Ohio. Cleveland Plain Dealer columnist Sam Fullwood, III, spent Sunday afternoon with Marbury as the New York Knicks guard signed autographs and promoted his line of athletic shoes, Starbury Ones.

What’s the big deal about an overpaid NBA celeb hawking basketball shoes AND getting front-page coverage? Here’s what: Those flashy Starbury Ones sell for a whopping $14.95. And they are flying off the shelves at Steve & Barry’s University Sportwear outlets. It seems that Marbury hooked up with S&B while looking for a way to promote a low-cost line of sportswear – decent athletic clothing that poor kids and their folks can afford. S&B wanted to grow the business without spending big ad bucks, and Marbury’s concept was the perfect way to create the buzz. In the process, they bucked the trend toward obscenely priced sneaks from Nike, Reebok et.al. Read the rest of this entry »