Is PR really a profession? And does it really matter?

May 23, 2010

Ray Simon

I met legendary PR professor Ray Simon in 1987. He came to Buffalo, at my invitation, to address the PRSA chapter there, and he discussed the questions you see in today’s headline.

Ray began teaching PR at Utica College in 1949. I used his book, “PR Concepts and Practices,” when I taught my first PR class at the University of Buffalo in 1985, and have always held Ray in the highest regard.

Ray’s key messages about “PR as profession” became part of my own lessons for the next 23 years. But since I can’t locate the  script he gave me that day, you’ll have to trust my notes and my memory. Read the rest of this entry »

It’s tea time in Appalachia; I’m in a parallel universe where communication and logic are lost

March 25, 2010

Is this the end of civility?

I don’t watch the TV pundits, liberal or conservative. And I don’t listen to the radio numbskulls like Glenn Beck. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t influential — and scary.

I’ve spent the past 10 days in rural Western Pennsylvania. I grew up here, the grandson of union coal miners – one a Democrat, one a Republican. They were smart and civil men, and they made up their own minds without any help from the likes of Beck or Limbaugh. They read the newspaper, they attended union meetings, and they went to church. They thought things through, and they believed in community. Read the rest of this entry »

Putting people before profits: Classic PR case study, but without the fairytale ending

March 5, 2010

In class this week, we discussed a case study that PR experts have lauded as “excellence” in employee relations. It involves a CEO who put the welfare of his employees ahead of his own bottom line. He did so in the most trying of circumstances, and his leadership landed him in the textbooks.

Fire at Malden Mills, 1995 (

In late 1995, a fire at Malden Mills put 3,000 union jobs at risk. The timing couldn’t have been worse. The 90-year-old manufacturer in Lawrence, Mass., has seen its revenues triple and employment double since emerging from bankruptcy in 1982. It’s popular Polartec and Polarfleece fabrics were one reason. A loyal and productive workforce was the other.

In a time when offshore manufacturing became standard procedure in American business, Malden Mills’ CEO Aaron Feuerstein opted to stay put and to rebuild his factory on the very site where his family had made textiles for 90 years. Read the rest of this entry »

When did accuracy become relative?

February 11, 2010

I should probably shut my mouth on this one. But I can’t.

I called out a journalist yesterday for two inaccuracies in her post promoting an upcoming news series. Here’s her response to my comment:

While I agree with you that accuracy is critical, not all subject matters warrent (sic) the same level of accuracy.

Forget the typo. Focus on the important question: When did accuracy become relative? In my 19 years on the faculty of a journalism school, no one ever told me that truth comes in “levels.” A fact is a fact because it can be verified. Read the rest of this entry »

Kent State/Poynter Ethics Conference examines citizen journalism’s impact, legitimacy

September 9, 2009

W2C-JPEGIt would be tough to argue against the impact of citizen journalism. It’s undeniable. But we can and do argue about its legitimacy and its output.

At least I do. Read the rest of this entry »

Restoring public trust: Today’s headlines have me wondering if it’s possible

December 11, 2008

I was part of this conversation on Facebook yesterday, triggered by a status update from my old friend and mentor:

John J. Bailey is wondering how we elect bad politicians? Why don’t more good people run for office?

Roy Richardson responds: Good people won’t take the abuse, personal attacks and other stuff that go with the election process in this day and age. Which is sad.

snakeI respond: Most of us are unwilling to swim with the snakes. So the snakes just take over. Scary.

John Bailey laments: Great comments guys. Then we get what we deserve, I guess.

Yep. I guess we do. Read the rest of this entry »